Gardiner v Taufer

Gardiner filed a petition to recognize a common law marriage between her and a Mr. Vanderwerff who had died. Relatives field a probate action and sought to intervene in the marriage case. The district court ordered recognition of the marriage, but, later allowed relatives to intervene, reversed the recognition order and even later dismissed the marriage case for failure to timely serve the relatives. The various orders and judgments were appealed and certified to the Court. It reversed the relevant decisions and reinstated the recognition order. The Court first held it had jurisdiction because Gardiner’s age and the complexity of the case were proper grounds for the district court to extend the time to appeal in this matter. It next held that the order allowing the relatives to intervene was improperly entered as the district court failed to consider the factors set out in Rule of Civil Procedure 24(a) and ordered the issue be correct analyzed if the relatives petition to intervene again. The Court held that the marriage declaration was improperly set aside because there was no motion before the court to act on and the legal basis for the court’s decision was erroneous as service on Mr. Vanderwerff’s estate had been waived. The Court finally held the marriage case was improperly dismissed because Gardiner was entitled to a hearing to present evidence on the service of process issue which the district court failed to provide and Gardiner waived service on behalf of eh estate after she was appointed personal presentative.