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Nolan and Nolan v. City of Eagan

December 30, 2003

NOLAN AND NOLAN, A MINNESOTA PARTNERSHIP, APPELLANT,
v.
CITY OF EAGAN, RESPONDENT, MINNESOTA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, RESPONDENT.



Dakota County District Court File No. C9-02-9121

Considered and decided by Kalitowski, Presiding Judge; Halbrooks, Judge; and Stoneburner, Judge.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

1. When it is uncertain whether a landowner who alleges the government caused its property to flood can establish that the flooding constitutes a taking, the landowner can simultaneously petition for a writ of mandamus seeking inverse condemnation, and, in the alternative, file a complaint alleging tort claims.

2. The statute of limitations provision in Minn. Stat. § 541.051, subd. 1(a) (2002), applies to claims against a property owner for trespass, nuisance, and negligent construction and design, but not to claims alleging negligent maintenance, operation, or inspection.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kalitowski, Judge

Affirmed in part, Reversed in part, and Remanded

OPINION

Appellant challenges the district court's dismissal of both its mandamus action and its tort claims for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, arguing that the district court erred by determining that: (1) appellant failed to state a takings claim; (2) appellant's mandamus action failed because appellant had an adequate remedy at law; (3) as a matter of law appellant was prohibited from pursuing mandamus and tort claims simultaneously; and (4) the statute of limitations barred appellant's trespass, nuisance, and negligent construction, design, maintenance, operation, and inspection claims.

FACTS

Appellant Nolan and Nolan, a Minnesota Partnership, owns and operates EZ Mini Storage on property abutting Sibley Memorial Highway in the City of Eagan. EZ Mini Storage rents space to tenants for the storage of personal property. Appellant has owned the property for more than 20 years. At approximately the same time appellant was constructing the storage business on its property, respondent Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) began constructing Sibley Memorial Highway. In connection with its construction, MnDOT constructed a storm sewer system.

In its complaint and petition for a writ of mandamus, appellant alleged that MnDOT and the City caused numerous incidents of flooding on appellant's property, and that the flooding has been and will continue to be frequent, regular, and permanent. Specifically, appellant alleged that MnDOT and the City's negligent design and construction of their storm sewer systems, and their failure to exercise reasonable care in the maintenance, repair, and operation of those systems caused the flooding. Appellant alleged its property most recently flooded on July 8, 2000, causing damage to its building, the building's contents, and its tenants' personal property.

On July 3, 2002, appellant filed a petition for a writ of mandamus, seeking an order requiring MnDOT and the City to initiate inverse condemnation proceedings. In the alternative, appellant filed a complaint alleging trespass, negligence, nuisance, and violation of due process. On November 27, 2002, the district court granted MnDOT's motion to dismiss all of appellant's claims against MnDOT for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The City remained a party. Subsequently, the City and appellant stipulated to dismiss the case without prejudice and this appeal followed.

ISSUES

1. Did the district court err in dismissing appellant's inverse condemnation claim on the pleadings?

A. Did appellant adequately state a takings claim?

B. Did the district court err in dismissing appellant's taking claim on the ground that appellant had an adequate remedy at law?

C. Did the district court err in concluding that appellant could not pursue tort claims and a writ ...


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