Articles Posted in Real Estate & Property 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

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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