Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Minnesota Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals and remanded this case, holding that, for property to be commandeered, the government must exercise exclusive control over or obtain exclusive possession of the property such that the government could physically use it for an emergency management purpose.Appellant brought this suit arguing that his hospitality businesses were commandeered when the Governor issued emergency executive orders in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that imposed capacity limits for dining beginning in March 2020. As the owner of the commandeered property, Appellant argued, he was entitled to just compensation for the government's use under Minn. Stat. 12.34. The district court dismissed the commandeering claim, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the government exercises exclusive physical control or exclusive possession of private property when only the government may exercise control or possession of the property and the owner is denied all control over or possession of the property; and (2) remand to the district court for further proceedings was required in this case. View "Buzzell v. Walz" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the judgment of the district court granting the motion for judgment on the pleadings filed by Defendant, Grant Park Association, and dismissing Plaintiff's action alleging that Defendant violated the Minnesota Common Interest Ownership Act of 1993, Minn. Stat. 515B.1-101 to .4-118, holding that the district court erred.After Defendant failed to respond to Plaintiff's request for the postal and e-mail addresses of all members of the Association Plaintiff brought this action alleging that Defendant violated the Act and the Association's bylaws by not turning over the records. The district court granted Defendant's motion for judgment for the pleadings. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) an association must disclose all records that fall under the categories listed in Minn. Stat. 515B.3-118, including records of membership kept by the association; (2) Defendant's bylaws required the same level of disclosure as the Act; and (3) Plaintiff adequately pleaded his claims to survive a motion for judgment on the pleadings. View "Harkins v. Grant Park Ass'n" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the tax court ruling on certain motions filed by Taxpayer and rejecting Taxpayer's statutory claim that its property was unequally assessed, holding that the tax court did not abuse its discretion in ruling on the motions, and Taxpayer failed to present evidence to support the unequal assessment claim.On appeal, Taxpayer challenged the tax court's denial of its motion to compel Washington County to produce information about other similar properties, its motion to amend the pleadings to add unequal assessment and disparate treatment claims, and its motion to compel the county assessor to testify. Taxpayer further appealed the tax court's rejection of Taxpayer's unequal assessment claim. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the tax court's denial of Taxpayer's motions was not an abuse of discretion; and (2) the tax court did not err in rejecting the unequal assessment claim. View "Chambers Self-Storage Oakdale, LLC v. County of Washington" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the tax court concluding that three clinics - Perham Clinic, Ottertail Clinic, and New York Mills Clinic - were not subject to property tax because they clinics were exempt under Minn. Stat. 447.31, subd. 6, holding that there was no error.The exemption at issue is provided for hospital districts. At issue on appeal was whether to classify the three medical clinics that were owned and operated by Perham Hospital District as taxable or exempt. Otter Tail County classified the clinics as commercial and thus subject to property tax, concluding that the tax exemption at issue was available to hospitals and not to clinics. After a trial, the tax court concluded that the clinics were exempt from tax under Minn. Stat. 447.31, subd. 6. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the tax court did not clearly err in finding that the District used the clinics to improve and run Perham Hospital during the tax years at issue. View "Perham Hospital District v. County of Otter Tail" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirmed the orders of the district court dismissing Appellant's constitutional claims asserting discrimination in the tax assessments of its properties, holding that Appellants' claims were time-barred.Appellant, Walmart, Inc., owned real property in two counties (the Counties). In this action, Walmart claimed that for tax purposes the Counties overvalued the properties or unfairly assessed the properties' value as compared with other similarly situated properties. Appellant asserted that the Counties' international discrimination in their tax assessments violated the Equal Protection Clause and Appellant's right to uniformity in taxation. The district court dismissed the claims as time-barred, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellant's claims were subject to the limitations period of Minn. Stat. Ann. Chapter 278 and were time-barred. View "Walmart Inc. v. Winona County" on Justia Law

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In this property dispute, the Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the decision of the court of appeals determining that Joseph and Jennifer Roach's appeal was not barred by their acceptance of a remittitur on future damages and that the Roaches could seek attorney fees, holding that attorney fees were not authorized under the watershed statute, Minn. Stat. 103D.545, subd. 3.The Roaches, whose home was damaged during the construction of a home on property owned by Thomas and Sandra Alinder, brought nuisance and other claims against the Alinders and the company that built the home. After years of litigation, a jury trial was held to address damages. The jury awarded the Roaches damages. The Roaches moved for attorney fees. The district court denied the motion on the grounds that section 103D.545, subd. 3, did not apply. The district court further conditionally ordered a new trial unless the Roaches accepted a remittitur of the future damages award to zero. The Roaches accepted the remittitur and appealed the denial of attorney fees. The Supreme Court held (1) the Roaches were permitted to appeal issues separate and distinct from the subject of the remittitur order; but (2) attorney fees were not authorized under the statute. View "Roach v. County of Becker" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the decision of the court of appeals reversing the judgment of the district court denying Plaintiff's claim in conciliation court against Defendants seeking replevin of her dog Oliver on the grounds that Plaintiff had abandoned Oliver, holding that, under Minn. Stat. 345.75, Plaintiff did not abandon her dog.At issue was whether section 345.75, which governs the abandonment of tangible personal property, abrogates by implication the common law governing the abandoning of tangible personal property. The court of appeals held that section 345.75 abrogated the common law of abandonment of tangible personal property by necessary implication. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) section 345.75 does not abrogate by implication the common law of abandonment of tangible personal property; and (2) Plaintiff did not abandon her dog under the statue, and the district court erred in concluding that Plaintiff abandoned her dog under the common law. View "Zephier v. Agate" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that groundwater is a Class 1 water under Minnesota law and therefore subject to secondary drinking water standards promulgated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).In 2018, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) issued a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System/State Disposal System permit to United States Steel Corporation (U.S. Steel) governing U.S. Steel's Minntac Tailings Basin Area in Mountain Iron and setting a groundwater sulfate limit of 250 mg/L at the facility's boundary that U.S. Steel must meet by 2025. On appeal, U.S. Steel argued that the MPCA did not have the authority to impose the sulfate standard in the permit because the EPA's secondary drinking water standards apply only to bodies of water classified as Class 1 waters and that groundwater is not classified as Class 1. The court of appeals agreed and reversed the MPCA's decision. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) groundwater is a Class 1 water under Minnesota law; and (2) therefore, the MPCA correctly exercised its authority by applying the Class 1 secondary drinking water standards to the permit. View "In re Reissuance of NPDES/SDS Permit to United States Steel Corp." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing Plaintiff's complaint alleging that he witnessed Defendant's workers violate safety protocols resulting in contamination of his home, holding that Minn. Stat. 541.051 barred Plaintiff's claims.Plaintiff hired Defendant to remove a broken boiler that was insulated with asbestos and his asbestos pipe insulation. On March 12, 2014, a report confirmed Plaintiff's allegation that Defendant's workers tracked asbestos through Plaintiff's home. Plaintiff, however, did not sue Defendant until April 20, 2018. The district court dismissed the complaint on the grounds that the two-year statute of limitations in section 541.051 barred Plaintiff's claims. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiff's damages arose out of the defective and unsafe condition of an improvement to real property, and therefore, the two-year statute of limitations in section 541.051, subdivision 1(a) barred Plaintiff's claims. View "Moore v. Robinson Environmental, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the district court reversing a transfer penalty imposed by the Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Services on David Pfoser, a disabled Medicaid recipient who resided in a long-term care facility, after he transferred partial proceeds from the sale of a house into a pooled special-needs trust, holding that Pfoser made a satisfactory showing that he intended to receive valuable consideration for his transfer of assets.State and federal law impose a penalty on recipients, like Pfoser, of Medical Assistance for Long-Term Care benefits if they transfer assets for less than fair market value, but no penalty is imposed if the recipient makes a satisfactory showing that he intended to dispose of the assets either at fair market value or for other valuable consideration. See Minn. Stat. 256B.0595, subd. 4(a)(4). The Commissioner affirmed the transfer penalty imposed on Pfoser. The district court reversed, concluding that Pfoser received adequate compensation in the form of his vested equitable interest in the trust assets. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that substantial evidence did not support the Commissioner's decision to uphold the penalty. View "Pfoser v. Harpstead" on Justia Law