Re: Litigation, March 2011



SAVE THE DATE! Larkin Hoffman’s Real Estate Litigation Department is hosting a “Coming Through” seminar and networking event during the afternoon on May 12, 2011.  Coming Through will bring together our attorneys with developers, builders, contractors, and consultants for an afternoon of valuable information and networking.  Reserve the date now, and watch for additional information concerning this event soon.  




Minnesota Constitution Provides Greater Protection Against a Regulatory Taking than the Federal Constitution

By Julie N. Nagorski

While the United States Constitution provides that private property shall not be “taken” without just compensation, the Minnesota Constitution ensures that just compensation must be paid not only when private property is taken, but also when it is “destroyed or damaged.”  The Court of Appeals confirmed in a published decision that the state’s constitutional protection extends further than that afforded by the federal constitution.

Property Tax Alert

This year, the April 30 deadline for filing property tax appeals falls on a Saturday.  To ensure timely service and filing of tax petitions for our clients, we will be unable to accept property tax appeal cases for review, service and filing any later than Friday, April 22, 2011.  


Construction Work Did Not Relate to Demolition Work Two Years Earlier, So Intervening Mortgage Had Priority Over Contractor’s Mechanic’s Lien

By Julie N. Nagorski


In a recent unpublished decision, the Minnesota Court of Appeals held that the construction of a building did not relate back to the pre-mortgage clearing of the lot and preparation of the site through demolition.  Accordingly, the lender’s interest was higher than the mechanic’s lien of a contractor who contributed to the construction of the condominium.

News and Notes

In a case receiving media attention in the northern Minnesota, Rob Stefonowicz and environmental attorney Peder Larson successfully defended Duluth Public Schools in a lawsuit brought by several citizens who opposed the construction of Duluth’s Western Middle School.  The citizen group alleged that the District and the City of Duluth failed to consider potential environmental impacts arising from the construction of the middle school.  The court granted summary judgment in favor of the District and the City, dismissing the lawsuit and finding that the potential environmental impacts were appropriately considered and addressed.

When a property owner sought city approvals for re-zoning from a commercial use to allow a high-density residential development, neighboring owners relied on the Larkin Hoffman Real Estate Litigation team of James Susag and Erin Carlson, who helped convince the city that the present zoning is appropriate, resulting in a denial of the applications.

On behalf of a married couple facing potentially-significant liability in connection with a quitclaim deed the couple's daughter delivered upon cancellation of her contract for deed for the property, Julie Nagorski and bankruptcy attorney Thomas Flynn recently obtained a favorable federal court decision. Finding that the couple was not liable for the alleged wrongs, the court dismissed the asserted claims.


The Minnesota Real Estate Journal published an article by Gary Van Cleve, “Property Owner’s Bill of Rights:  Don’t Get Taken in a Taking,” in January 2011. 

Rob Stefonowicz’s article, “Condemnation Damages: A Property Owner’s Constitutional Right to Just Compensation,” was published in the February 2011 issue of the Minnesota Real Estate Journal. 

The ABA’s BusinessLaw publication featured an article authored by Mike Mergens and Julie Perrus of Larkin Hoffman’s land use practice group, entitled “The Case for LEED Certification in the Post-Recession World.”


Mike Mergens has organized, and will co-chair with Rob Stefonowicz, a day-long CLE on eminent domain sponsored by the Hennepin County Bar Association and the Minnesota Eminent Domain Institute ("MEDI"). The seminar will feature speakers from MEDI, including Gary Van Cleve, opposite assistant county attorneys on a wide range of hot issues in eminent domain. 

The MS 150 Ride, an annual bike ride from Duluth to the Twin Cities benefitting the Multiple Sclerosis Society, is scheduled to occur on June 10-12, 2011 and Team Leader Gary Van Cleve and Rob

Stefonowicz have been working hard to train, recruit riders, and raise funds.   

Meanwhile, Tamara O’Neill Moreland, board member for the March of Dimes, is planning and preparing for the March of Dimes Walk for Babies.  To be held on May 1, 2011, this 4-mile walk raises funds to help improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality. 

Jessica Rivas was recently selected to serve on the newly-created St. Louis Park Convention and Visitors Bureau Board of Directors.

Tamara O’Neill Moreland was recently invited to join the Minneapolis Club of Zonta International.



Contact Our Real Estate Litigation Lawyers: 

Email 952.896.3277

Jessica B. Rivas

Email 952.896.3384

Michael J. Mergens

Email 952.896.3297


Email 952.896.3254  

Julie N. Nagorski

Email 952.896.1525


Email 952.896.1574

Tamara O'Neill Moreland

Email 952.896.6711

Erin M. Carlson (Paralegal)

Email 952.896.3317

This alert is provided as a service to our clients and firm associates.  While the information provided in this publication is believed to be accurate, it is general in nature and should not be construed as legal advice.