Articles Posted in Real Estate & Property 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

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The clear-and-convincing standard applies when determining the existence of an oral contract for the conveyance of farmland when only money damages are sought for the claimed breach of that contract. Plaintiff argued that the Estates of his parents were obligated under an oral contract for the sale of land to convey farm property to him. After a second trial, the jury found by a preponderance of the evidence that an oral contract existed between Plaintiff and his parents and awarded Plaintiff damages for the breach of that contract. The Estates moved for judgment as a matter of law and a new trial, arguing that the district court instructed the jury on the incorrect standard of proof. The district court denied the motion. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the matter to the district court for a new trial, holding (1) the clear and convincing evidence is required to prove that an oral contract for the sale of land existed, regardless of whether the party seeks damages or specific performance; and (2) therefore, the district abused its discretion in denying Plaintiff’s motion for a new trial. View "Christie v. Estate of Dilman Christie" on Justia Law

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At issue on certiorari was what evidence a tax court may rely upon in deciding whether the taxpayer has overcome the presumptive validity of the county’s assessment. Here, Taxpayer contested the County’s assessment of the fair market value of Taxpayer’s parking ramp. The tax court denied the County’s motion to dismiss, basing its decision on evidence presented in the County’s case. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the tax court erred in considering the County’s evidence to decide the motion to dismiss because the relevant law permits only the Taxpayer’s evidence to be considered; but (2) the tax court did not abuse its discretion by holding, in the alternative, that Taxpayer’s evidence overcame the presumptive validity of the assessment. View "Court Park Co. v. County of Hennepin" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the tax court’s denial of relief to Ronald and Dee Johnson, who filed this action challenging the property taxes that Hennepin County assessed against their property. The tax court granted the County’s motion to dismiss the petition for tax years 2007 through 2012 because those claims were not filed in compliance with Minn. Stat. 278.01-.02 and dismissed the Johnson’s constitutional claims for lack of jurisdiction. The tax court then granted judgment in favor of the County on the Johnsons’ remaining claims challenging the assessment for the 2013 tax year. Thereafter, the tax court denied the Johnsons’ five post-trial motions. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the evidence in the record adequately supported each of the tax court’s decisions at issue. View "Johnson v. County of Hennepin" on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was the permissibility of preaward interest on an insurance appraisal award under the preaward interest statute, Minn. Stat. 549.09, subd. 1(b). Cincinnati Insurance Company issued James Poehler a homeowner’s insurance policy that provided replacement cost coverage for Poehler’s home and personal property. After a fire damaged Poehler’s property, Poehler demanded an appraisal under the appraisal clause of the policy. The appraisers issued an award, determining that Poehler’s total loss was more than what Cincinnati had paid by the time of the appraisal hearing. The district court confirmed the appraisal award and granted Poehler preaward interest. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the preaward interest statute does not apply to appraisal awards pursuant to an insurance policy in the absence of “an underlying breach of contract or actionable wrongdoing.” The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) section 549.09 does not require a finding of wrongdoing for the recovery of a reward interest on appraisal awards; (2) the loss payment provision in Cincinnati’s insurance policy did not preclude Poehler from recovering preaward interest on the appraisal award; and (3) the loss payment provision in Minn. Stat. 65A.01, the Minnesota standard fire insurance policy, did not apply in this case. View "Poehler v. Cincinnati Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court declined Appellants’ invitation to depart from the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Camara v. Municipal Court, 387 U.S. 523 (1967) and hold that Minnesota’s constitution requires that an administrative search warrant be supported by probable cause of the sort required in a criminal investigation. Camara held that an administrative warrant satisfies the probable cause requirement if reasonable legislative or administrative standards for conducting an unconsented-to rental housing inspection are satisfied with respect to a particular dwelling. In this case, the City of Golden Valley petitioned the district court for an administrative search warrant to search rental property for compliance with the city code. The district court denied the petition for the administrative search warrant, concluding that the issuance of such a search warrant was foreclosed without suspicion of a code violation. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Minnesota Constitution does not require individualized suspicion of a code violation to support an administrative search warrant for a rental housing inspection. View "City of Golden Valley v. Wiebesick" 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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The Mandels owned a home that, in 2011, was damaged by rainwater. Based on an post-casualty appraisal, the Mandels deducted $82,247 from their income reflected on their 2011 federal tax return. This deduction also affected the Mandels’ Minnesota taxable income. Following an audit, the Commissioner of Revenue disallowed much of the Mandels’ casualty-loss deduction by reducing the allowable tax deduction to the amount of the cost of the repairs the Mandels actually made to their home. The Mandels appealed. The tax court granted summary judgment in favor of the Commissioner. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the tax court did not err in determining that the Mandels’ post-casualty appraisal was not “competent” and did not err in granting the Commissioner’s motion for summary judgment. View "Mandel v. Commissioner of Revenue" on Justia Law

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Menard, Inc. challenged Clay County’s assessment of the market value of Menard’s home improvement retail store as of January 2, 2011 through January 2, 2014. A trial ensued before the tax court, after which the court adopted market valuations below the County’s assessment values but above Menard’s expert appraiser’s valuation. Both Menard and the County appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed the tax court’s value determinations, holding that the tax court did not err in weighting the sales comparison approach and the cost approach for the valuation years at issue and did not fail adequately to explain its reasoning for that decision. View "Menard, Inc. v. County of Clay" on Justia Law