Justia Minnesota Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

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In 1999, Yik Lo created H.K.D. Lo, Inc. Yik and his wife, Yau Lo, operated several restaurants through H.K.D., the last of which they sold in 2005. In approximately 2004, Yik and Yau’s son, Kee Lo, opened a restaurant called Jun Bo that Kee operated through H.K.D. In 2011, Yik and Yau formally dissolved H.K.D. In 2012, the Commissioner of Revenue assessed Yik personally liable for sales taxes owed by H.K.D. in the amount of $91,019. Yik appealed. The tax court concluded that Yik was not personally liable for H.K.D.’s unpaid tax debt because Yik was not a person who had “control of, supervision of, or responsibility for” filing H.K.D.’s tax returns or paying H.K.D.’s taxes. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that because Yik funded H.K.D., signed checks on its behalf, had a fifty percent stake in the company, and delegated day-to-day control of the business to someone else, Yik had control over H.K.D.’s tax obligations, despite the fact that Kee demanded and exercised authority over Jun Bo’s daily operations. View "Lo v. Commissioner of Revenue" on Justia Law
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A grand jury indicted Appellant for first-degree premeditated murder. After a jury trial, Appellant was found guilty as charged. The district court sentenced Appellant to life imprisonment without the possibility of release. On appeal, Appellant argued that the district court committed reversible error in its pretrial rulings, evidentiary rulings, and instructions to the jury. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court (1) did not err by denying Appellant’s motion to quash the first-degree murder indictment as untimely; (2) did not abuse its discretion by denying Appellant’s pretrial motion to disclose the entire grand jury transcript; (3) did not err when it excluded evidence of an alternative perpetrator’s prior bad acts; (4) did not commit reversible error in its evidentiary rulings challenged on appeal; and (5) did not commit prejudicial error when it overruled Appellant’s objection to a proposed jury instruction on the law on accomplice liability. View "State v. Guzman" on Justia Law
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Respondent worked as a police officer for Appellant City of Minneapolis. When the City transferred Respondent from his position with the Violent Offender Task Force to another police unit Respondent was fifty-four years old. In November 2011, Respondent filed a complaint with Appellant’s human resources department, claiming that the transfer was due to age discrimination. More than one year after Peterson filed his complaint, Appellant concluded that the transfer was not because of age discrimination. In March 2014, Respondent commenced this action against Appellant, claiming that the City discriminated against him based on his age in violation of the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA). The district court granted partial summary judgment for the City, concluding that Respondent’s claim was not filed within the relevant one-year limitations period. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the statute of limitations was suspended during the period of time in which Appellant’s human resources department was investigating Respondent’s claim. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Respondent and Appellant were voluntarily engaged in a dispute resolution process involving a claim of unlawful discrimination during Appellant’s investigation of Respondent’s claim, which triggered Minn. Stat. 363A.28(3)(b) and suspended the one-year limitations period. View "Peterson v. City of Minneapolis" on Justia Law

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After Nicole LaPoint applied for a job with Family Orthodontics, the company’s owner, Dr. Angela Ross, offered LaPoint a job as an orthodontic assistant. When LaPoint told Dr. Ross that she was pregnant, Family Orthodontics rescinded its job offer. LaPoint sued the company for sex discrimination under the Minnesota Human Rights Act. The district court entered judgment in favor of Family Orthodontics. The court of appeals reversed, ruling, as a matter of law, that Family Orthodontics had discriminated against LaPoint because of her pregnancy. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) to the extent the court of appeals applied an incorrect legal standard to evaluate LaPoint’s claim, it erred; and (2) the district court’s findings were reasonably supported by the evidence, but it was unclear whether the district court would have made the same findings had it applied the correct law regarding animus. Remanded. View "LaPoint v. Family Orthodontics, P.A." on Justia Law

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At dispute in this case was the taxable value of Macy’s Retail Holdings, Inc.’s downtown Minneapolis property. Macy’s challenged the Minneapolis Assessor’s valuation of the property for the 2008, 2009, and 2010 tax years. After a trial, the tax court valued the property at figures lower than the assessor’s original valuation of the property for each of the years in question but not to the extent urged by the testimony and appraisal report of Macy’s expert witness. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the tax court (1) did not clearly err in its determination of the property’s highest and best use and in its consideration of comparable-sales data; (2) did not abuse its discretion when it declined to strike portions of the appraisal report and testimony of the County’s expert witness as a sanction for a discovery violation; and (3) did not clearly err in disregarding the sale of a nearby commercial property when it evaluated the comparable-sales data provided by the parties. View "Macy’s Retail Holdings, Inc. v. County of Hennepin" on Justia Law

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Appellant suffered injuries after being hit by another driver. The at-fault driver’s liability insurer paid Appellant $100,000, the full amount available under the policy. Appellant made a settlement demand on State Farm, with whom he had an underinsured-motorist policy that also had a $100,000 coverage limit. State Farm offered less than $30,000 to settle the claim. Appellant filed a complaint against State Farm alleging breach of contract and claiming that he was entitled to the full amount recoverable under the policy. The district court ultimately entered judgment in the amount of $98,800. Thereafter, Appellant amended his complaint to add a claim under Minn. Stat. 604.18, which authorizes the award of “taxable costs” when an insurer denies benefits without a reasonable basis. The district court concluded that State Farm had denied Appellant insurance benefits without a reasonable basis. The court then determined that the “proceeds awarded” to an insured under section 604.18 are capped by the insurance policy limit. The court of appeals affirmed after determining that the state was ambiguous. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that section 604.18 unambiguously caps “proceeds awarded” at the amount recoverable under the insurance policy. View "Wilbur v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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Defendant was charged with gross misdemeanor second-degree driving while impaired. The matter proceeded to trial. After the State rested, Defendant made a motion for judgment of acquittal, arguing that there was insufficient evidence to convict him of the offense. Thereafter, the State asked to reopen its case-in-chief. The district court granted the State’s motion to reopen and then denied Defendant’s motion for judgment of acquittal. The jury found Defendant guilty as charged. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that the district court did not err when it granted the State’s motion to reopen its case-in-chief before considering Defendant’s motion for judgment of acquittal. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, under the circumstances of this case, the district court did not abuse its discretion when it permitted the State to reopen its case-in-chief in response to Defendant’s motion for judgment of acquittal. View "State v. Thomas" on Justia Law
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After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of first-degree premeditated murder, two counts of attempted first-degree premeditated murder, and three drive-by-shooting counts. Defendant was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of release for the murder conviction. Defendant challenged his convictions by filing a petition for postconviction relief, raising a number of claims. The postconviction court denied the petition in its entirety. The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions of first-degree premeditated murder and attempted first-degree premeditated murder but vacated Defendant’s three drive-by-shooting convictions, holding (1) the evidence was sufficient to support the premeditated-murder counts; (2) there was no evidentiary error during trial; (3) the postconviction court did not err when it refused to review the grand-jury transcripts or disclose them to Defendant’s postconviction counsel; but (4) the drive-by-shooting counts were duplicative of the premeditated-murder and attempted-premeditated-murder counts. View "Loving v. State" on Justia Law
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After a jury trial, Defendant was found guilty of first-degree premeditated murder and unlawful possession of a firearm. The district court sentenced Defendant to life imprisonment without the possibility of release for the first-degree premeditated murder conviction. This appeal concerned Defendant’s second petition for postconviction relief in which he raised claims alleging newly discovered evidence and ineffective assistance of counsel. The postconviction court summarily denied Defendant’s claims of ineffective assistance of counsel and, after an evidentiary hearing, denied Defendant’s motion for a new trial based on his claim of newly discovered evidence. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the postconviction court did not abuse its discretion when it denied Defendant’s request for a new trial based on a claim of newly discovered evidence and when it denied Defendant’s postconviction claims asserting ineffective assistance of counsel. View "Pearson v. State" on Justia Law
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Defendant was charged in May 2013 with two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. When Defendant failed to appear for his first appearance, the district court issued a warrant for his arrest. In February 2015, Defendant was arrested for unrelated reasons. Before his omnibus hearing, Defendant moved to dismiss the charges, claiming that the twenty-one-month delay between the date he was charged and his eventual arrest violated his right to a speedy trial under the United States and Minnesota Constitutions. The district court granted Defendant’s motion and dismissed the charges after applying the four-factor balancing test from Barker v. Wingo. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the third and fourth Barker factors did not weigh in Defendant’s favor, and therefore, on balance, the State had not violated Defendant’s constitutional right to a speedy trial. The Supreme Court affirmed as modified, holding that although the delay may have been attributable to the State’s negligence, Defendant’s failure to assert his speedy trial right weighed heavily against him and ultimately led to the conclusion that the State did not violate Defendant’s right to a speedy trial. View "State v. Osorio" on Justia Law