Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Minnesota Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the district court dismissing Appellants' action seeking judicial review of a zoning variance granted by the Town of Duluth to Charles and Carol Danielson-Bille (the Billes), holding that the Billes should have been joined as a necessary party under Minn. R. Civ. P. 19.01. The Billes sought to build a retirement home on Lake Superior. The Town of Duluth Board of Supervisors granted a zoning variance. In appealing the decision, Appellants properly served Duluth within the thirty-day appeal period set forth in the local Duluth ordinance that authorized judicial review of the zoning variance decision but failed to serve the Billes within the same thirty-day period. Duluth and the Billes filed motions to dismiss, asserting that service was improper. The district court dismissed Billes from the case because they had not been timely served and then dismissed the entire action with prejudice, determining that the Billes were a necessary and indispensable party under Rule 19.01 and that the action could not proceed without them. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court erred by dismissing the action rather than joining the Billes to the action under Rule 19.01. View "Schulz v. Town of Duluth" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part the judgment of the tax court reaching a valuation for KCP Hastings, LLC's shopping mall, holding that the tax court erred in the assignment of value to an outlot on the property and erred when it used a gross building area other than the one stipulated to by the parties and otherwise did not err. The Supreme Court previously remanded this case to the tax court after concluding that the tax court's valuation of KCP's properly was not reasonably supported by the record. On remand, the tax court reached a new valuation for KCP's property. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the tax court clearly erred in assigning value to a portion of the mall's parking lot on the basis that the outlot could be sold and developed; (2) the tax court erred by using a different gross building area than the one stipulated to by the parties; and (3) the remainder of the tax court's determinations were not erroneous. View "KCP Hastings, LLC v. County of Dakota" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the tax court dismissing petitions filed by Wal-Mart Real Estate Business Trust (the Trust) challenging Anoka County's assessment of the Trust's three parcels of land in the county, holding that the tax court properly found that the properties were "income-producing" and that the Trust's disclosures were inadequate. Each parcel at issue in this case had a Walmart retail store, operated by Walmart, Inc. The Trust was a wholly-owned subsidiary of Walmart. The tax court dismissed the Trust's petitions challenging the Trust's assessment of the parcels because the Trust failed to disclose certain information before the deadline set forth in Minn. Stat. 278.05, subd. 6(a). The Trust appealed, arguing that it was not subject to the mandatory disclosure rule because Walmart stores are not "income-producing" within the meaning of the tax statute's mandatory-disclosure provision. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the properties were income-producing and that the Trust's disclosures were inadequate. View "Wal-Mart Real Estate Business Trust v. County of Anoka" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court discharged the writ of certiorari sought by Guardian Energy and dismissed the appeal in this case, holding that the order appealed from was not a final order at the time Guardian petitioned for a writ of certiorari, and therefore, this Court lacked jurisdiction. In 2015, the Supreme Court remanded this case to the tax court, concluding that the tax court's external-obsolescence calculations in valuating Guardian's property were not reasonably supported by the records. Before judgment was entered on the tax court's new order entered in 2016, Waseca County filed a motion requesting correction of computational errors made by the tax court through amended findings. Thereafter, the tax court stayed entry of judgment. Before the tax court ruled on the County's motion, Guardian sought review of the tax court's order. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction, holding that the County's unresolved motion and the tax court's stay of entry of judgment rendered the 2016 order not final. Therefore, this Court lacked jurisdiction over Guardian's appeal. View "Guardian Energy, LLC, Relator v. County of Waseca" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals reversing the order of the district court vacating the order of the Chief Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) that approved an annexation of certain property by the City of Proctor, holding that an orderly annexation agreement does not limit the authority of non-parties to the agreement to annex by ordinance property subject to the agreement. The City of Duluth and Midway Township entered into an orderly annexation agreement pursuant to Minn. Stat. 414.0325 regarding designated property in Midway and governing future annexations of that property by Duluth. Later, the owners of some of the designated property petitioned Proctor, a non-party to the agreement, to annex their property by ordinance pursuant to Minn. Stat. 414.033. Proctor did so, enacting an ordinance to that effect. The Chief ALJ issued a decision ruling that Proctor's annexation by ordinance was valid. The district court vacated the ALJ's decision, holding that Minn. Stat. 414.0325(1)(e) prevents annexations-by-ordinance of property within a designated area. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that orderly annexation agreements created under section 414.0325 do not prevent non-parties from annexing property by ordinance under section 414.033. View "In re Annexation of Certain Real Property to the City of Proctor from Midway Township" on Justia Law

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In this family dispute over real estate ownership resulting in a land partition action the Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the district court's order finding Appellant in contempt for failure to pay sand and gravel royalties, holding that a party who acquired a royalty interest through a stipulated judgment may not enforce that interest by post judgment discovery and a contempt motion. The land partition action was settled and judgment was issued based on a stipulated settlement by the parties. As part of the settlement, Respondent agreed to convey a gravel pit to Appellant, reserving a one-seventh interest in sand and gravel royalties. Under the settlement and resulting judgment, Appellant was required to pay for these royalties and sign releases allowing Respondent to contact gravel purchasers for verification purposes. The district court later found Appellant in contempt for failure to pay royalties but allowed Appellant to purge the contempt finding by, inter alia, paying Respondent's attorney fees. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) because the parties' stipulated judgment created an interest in land and not a judgment debt, postjudgment discovery was not permitted; and (2) the district court erred in holding Appellant in contempt and ordering payment of attorney fees. View "Sehlstrom v. Sehlstrom" on Justia Law

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In this condemnation case, the Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the district court’s award of $168,009 in attorney fees to the landowner under the condemnation fee-shifting statute, Minn. stat. 117.031(a), holding that the district court misinterpreted and misapplied the Court’s lodestar precedent. Using the lodestar method, the district court awarded the landowner the amount that he requested. The court of appeals reversed the award because the district court failed to begin its calculation with the presumptive lodestar amount of $34,133 and because the district court did not sufficiently explain why enhancing the presumptive lodestar amount by more than $130,000 would represent a reasonable fee. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) under current Supreme Court law, an enhancement based on a contingent fee agreement is improper; and (2) the district court incorrectly applied the law and did not make adequate factual findings to support its enhanced attorney-fee award. View "State v. Krause" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals dismissing the portion of Appellants’ appeal arising out of orders denying their motions in limine because Appellants did not raise their objections in a motion for a new trial, holding that a motion for a new trial is not required to preserve objections to pretrial orders that decide motions in limine for appellate review. In this condemnation proceeding, Hennepin County sought to seize Appellants’ property by eminent domain. Dissatisfied with the award of compensation they received for the taking, Appellants appealed the decision of the court-appointed commissioners. After the matter was set for trial, Appellants brought several motions in limine, all of which were denied. The matter then proceeded to trial, and the district court entered a judgment for $0. Appellants did not move for a new trial but instead appealed the judgment on several grounds, including the denial of their motions in limine. The court of appeals dismissed the portion of the appeal arising out of the denial of Appellants’ motions in limine. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that pretrial orders on motions in limine are appealable regardless of whether those orders have been assigned as error in a motion for a new trial. View "County of Hennepin v. Bhakta" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that a statutory city does not have express authority under Minn. Stat. 462.358(2)(a) to condition approval of a subdivision application on the payment of an infrastructure charge for future road-improvement projects. Respondent submitted an application to the City of Woodbury for approval to subdivide and develop a parcel of land. The City conditioned approval of the subdivision application upon payment of a roadway charge. Respondent then brought this action against the City. The lower courts determined that the City lacked statutory authority to impose an infrastructure charge under section 462.358(2)(a). The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the statute did not authorize the City’s infrastructure charge. View "Harstad v. City of Woodbury" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals interpreting Minn. Rev. Stat. 524.3-101 to allow real property to devolve immediately upon a testator’s death to a residual devisee. Plaintiff, in her capacity as personal representative to her father’s estate, sued Defendants to quiet title to residential property owned by her father at his death. Plaintiff’s brother, John, conveyed his interest in the property by quitclaim deed to Minnesota Premier Properties a few days after Wells Fargo bought the foreclosed property at a sheriff’s sale after the decedent’s death. The district court granted summary judgment to Plaintiff, concluding that John did not have an interest to convey to Premier through the quitclaim deed. The court of appeals reversed, holding that, under section 524.3-10, a valid, transferable ownership interest in real property devolves immediately upon a testator’s death to a person to whom the property is devised by the testator’s will. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the court of appeals did not err in interpreting the statute. View "Laymon v. Minnesota Premier Properties, LLC" on Justia Law