Real Estate Law Update, Summer 2010

05/27/2010 / Real Estate Litigation Practice Group



Legal Updates

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Supreme Court Rejects Claim for Vested Rights to Sign Built Under City Permit Issued in Error
By Julie N. Nagorski

Reliance on a written permit and considerable expenditures, alone, are insufficient to create a vested right in a construction project according to a recent Minnesota Supreme Court decision.

Supreme Court Holds DNR Without Authority to Intervene in Local Zoning Decisions in Lower St. Croix River Area
By Gary A. Van Cleve

The Minnesota Supreme Court has decided two recent cases that will remove a layer of governmental review from zoning requests by property owners in the Lower St. Croix River valley. continue 

Contractors Beware EPA Lead Paint Renovation Rule Now in Effect
By Rob A. Stefonowicz

Contractors in Minnesota and throughout the United States that perform repairs or renovations that disturb lead-based paint (such as sanding, cutting and demolishing) in homes, schools and child-care facilities constructed before 1978 are now subject to new EPA regulations mandating certain “lead-safe practices.” continue

"As is" Clauses Do Not Equal Iron-Clad Protection (originally printed in Minnesota Real Estate Journal, April 2010)
By Julie N. Nagorski 

The piece touched on dealing with “as-is” clauses in real estate transactions, how the seller cannot shield itself in certain circumstances, and how to avoid liability.

Property Tax Appeal Update

 The Minnesota Tax Court saw a huge influx of tax appeal petitions this year. Nearly 3,500 petitions came from just Hennepin County and Ramsey County. The Tax Appeal Team, Gary Van Cleve, Rob Stefonowicz and Mike Mergens filed $150,000,000 worth of appeals for the pay 2010 year.

Recent Success

On behalf of the owner of a large apartment complex, Mike Mergens reached a multi-year settlement of a property tax appeal resulting in an annual reduction in the assessed value of approximately $2 million.

James Susag passed the Civil Trial Specialist exam, joining Gary Van Cleve, to become the second member of the Real Estate Litigation group who is now recognized as a Civil Trial Specialist by the Minnesota State Bar Association (MSBA). Through testing, peer review from lawyers and judges, and documenting experience, the MSBA Legal Specialist Certification Program measures a lawyer's expertise in the specialty area. Although many lawyers limit their practice areas, only lawyers who successfully complete the application process and continue to meet all program standards may call themselves MSBA Certified Legal Specialists. The Certified Legal Specialist designation is one way for the public to identify those attorneys who have demonstrated proficiency in their specialty area and to find an attorney whose qualifications match their legal needs.

Through a proper application of complex statutory scheme on taxation of railroad property and valuation principles, Mike Mergens obtained a multi-year settlement of property tax appeals challenging the assessed value and classification of industrial property that includes railroad operating property and non-operating property that resulted in an annual reduction of more than $6 million. 

A property owner/developer facing nearly $2 million in special assessment fees and a condemnation claim recently relied on Gary Van Cleve and Rob Stefonowicz to represent him in the resulting complex and multi-tiered disputes. A single, encompassing settlement was reached that awarded our client more than $5.6 million in cash and lucrative development benefits for the property at issue.

Team Captain Gary Van Cleve and Rob Stefonowicz will be riding in the annual MS 150 bike ride from Duluth to the Twin Cities to help raise money for multiple sclerosis.

 Gary Van Cleve completed a 30-hour mediation training course which qualifies him as a mediator.  Gary is now available for mediating disputes in the real estate and land use areas and is listed on the Minnesota State Court System’s statewide list of qualified neutrals.

About Our Practice

The Larkin Hoffman Real Estate Litigation practice group combines experience in real estate, land use, construction and environmental matters with expertise in litigation, dispute resolution and appellate advocacy. Specialty areas include eminent domain actions; property tax assessment and special assessment appeals; landlord-tenant disputes; and liens and mortgages.

The Real Estate Litigation team handles any dispute concerning the ownership, improvements, dimensions, use or value of real estate. Our experienced trial lawyers represent property owners, buyers, sellers, lenders, landlords, tenants and business entities in a wide variety of real estate disputes. These disputes include boundary and easement disputes, condemnation and eminent domain, construction and design defects, environmental disputes, foreclosures, green/sustainable development disputes, land use disputes, landlord-tenant disputes, liens, property tax appeals, special assessments, transactional disputes and telecommunications, as well as other disputed matters related to or involving real property.

Contact Our Real Estate Litigation Group

Gary A. Van Cleve, Chair
Email 952.896.3277

Michael J. Mergens
Email 952.896.3297

Julie N. Nagorski
Email 952.896.1525

Tamara O'Neill Moreland
Email 952.896.6711

Jessica B. Rivas
Email 952.896.3384

Rob A. Stefonowicz
Email 952.896.3254

James M. Susag
Email 952.896.1572

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.