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County of Blue Earth v. Wingen

August 10, 2004

COUNTY OF BLUE EARTH, PETITIONER, RESPONDENT,
v.
FRANCIS E. WINGEN, ET AL., APPELLANTS.



Blue Earth County District Court File No. C5-01-1506.

Considered and decided by Kalitowski , Presiding Judge; Willis, Judge; and Wright , Judge.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

1. When a district court judgment is stayed by supersedeas bond under Minn. R. Civ. App. P. 108.01, subd. 2, and that judgment is affirmed on appeal, the district court may award "damages in consequence of the appeal" in excess of the amount of the supersedeas bond.

2. When a district court calculates "damages in consequence of the appeal" under Minn. R. Civ. App. P. 108.01, subd. 2, the prevailing party is entitled to recover foreseeable losses as a result of the appeal, subject to the prevailing party's obligation to mitigate damages.

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

Reversed and remanded

Concurring specially, Kalitowski, Judge

OPINION

On a prior appeal, appellants posted a supersedeas bond and stayed a condemnation order pending the outcome of the appeal. Respondent prevailed and moved for "damages in consequence of the appeal." Minn. R. Civ. App. P. 108.01, subd. 2. The district court awarded damages in excess of the amount of the supersedeas bond. Appellants argue that (1) the district court erred in awarding damages in excess of the amount of the supersedeas bond and (2) the evidence is insufficient to support the amount of damages. By notice of review, respondent also argues that the damage award is not supported by the record. We reverse and remand.

FACTS

This appeal involves respondent Blue Earth County's two condemnation actions against four acres of property owned by appellants Francis and Mary Wingen. The county brought these actions to obtain grading fill for two highway projects. The first condemnation action sought a temporary-easement (temporary-easement action); the second action sought fee title outright (fee-title action).

The county brought the temporary-easement action in July 2001. Following a hearing on September 12, 2001, the district court ordered the easement. Based on this order, the Wingens brought the first appeal in this matter, challenging the county's authority to obtain the easement. County of Blue Earth v. Wingen, Nos. C0-01-1731, C3-02-17, 2002 WL 1839209 (Minn. App. Aug. 13, 2002). Pending the outcome of the appeal, the Wingens moved to stay the temporary easement. See Minn. R. Civ. App. P. 108.01.

To cover potential damages as a result of the stay, the county requested that appellants file a supersedeas bond. The county offered a supporting affidavit by its highway engineer, Alan Forsberg, who estimated that damages would exceed $61,000 because of the extra cost to purchase and transport fill. Forsberg maintained that it was not feasible to avoid these costs by suspending the highway projects pending the resolution of the appeal.

On October 22, 2001, the district court granted the stay and ordered appellants to post a supersedeas bond of $5,200. The district court subsequently explained its ruling:

[The county]... claimed that the appeal could be expected to damage [it] to the extent of $61,700. At the hearing on the merits of the issues conducted on October 16, 2001, the Court expressed [its] doubts as to the merits of [the Wingens'] position and deferred to [the county's] attorney in regard to the amount of ...


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