Larkin Hoffman Attorneys Obtain Court Order for Client After Uncompensated Taking of Restaurant’s Highway Access

03/08/2016

In late 2015, Larkin Hoffman litigation attorneys Gary Van Cleve, Rob Stefonowicz, and Bryan Huntington successfully obtained a court order requiring MnDOT to initiate condemnation proceedings based upon its uncompensated taking of a property’s road access. The property at issue is the site of the once-successful restaurant known as the “Black Stallion,” situated on Highway 52 in the City of Hampton. Property owners should take note of this precedent because it demonstrates that courts vigorously enforce the constitutional right of Minnesota property owners to reasonably convenient and suitable access—that is, the right of owners of property abutting a highway to reasonably convenient and suitable access to the highway.

This dispute arose as a result of MnDOT’s abrupt barricading of the access point between the Black Stallion and Highway 52. For many years, the restaurant had been highly dependent upon customers having convenient access to and from Highway 52. After MnDOT closed the access point, drivers on Highway 52 could only access the Black Stallion by following an inconvenient and circuitous path winding through the City of Hampton. Unsurprisingly, the closure of access caused the restaurant to fail within a matter of months. Nevertheless, MnDOT refused to commence condemnation proceedings.

On behalf of the property owner, Larkin Hoffman brought suit, alleging that the closure of the Black Stallion’s access to Highway 52 constituted a taking of the property owner’s right of reasonably convenient and suitable access. MnDOT disagreed, arguing that no taking had occurred because, decades before, MnDOT had taken the property’s “access control.” In reply, Larkin Hoffman attorneys argued that, prior to 2012, the property had always had reasonably convenient and suitable access to Highway 52 and, furthermore, no owners of the property had ever been compensated for the loss of reasonably convenient and suitable access. The court found these arguments compelling, and ordered MnDOT to commence condemnation proceedings to compensate the property owner for the taking of access.

Larkin Hoffman Real Estate Litigation attorneys have significant experience securing compensation for property owners in takings cases against the government. They are committed to protecting property owners’ rights when the government unlawfully refuses to provide compensation.