City of Minneapolis Department of Licenses and Consumer Services File Nos. 12-0891238, 12-0912130
May C. Yang, Mitchell R. Hadler, Law Office of Mitchell R. Hadler, Minneapolis, Minnesota (for relator)
Susan L. Segal, Minneapolis City Attorney, Joel M. Fussy, Assistant City Attorney, Minneapolis, Minnesota (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Kalitowski, Presiding Judge; Hooten, Judge; and Klaphake, Judge. [*]
In this certiorari appeal from an administrative-citation hearing, relator challenges the administrative hearing officer's decision to uphold fines for violating respondent-city's ordinance that prohibits the operation of unlicensed motor-vehicle-repair garages. Relator argues that his operation does not fall within the definition of a motor-vehicle-repair garage and that the findings and the evidence are insufficient to support the imposition of fines. We affirm.
Mohamed Zein Eshmawy and his brother Mohamed Nour Eshmawy owned and operated Z & N Auto Repair, Inc., a licensed motor-vehicle-repair garage located at 4056 Washington Avenue North in Minneapolis. Z & N's license expired on September 1, 2010, they did not renew it. Z & N dissolved around the same time that Mohamed Zein Eshmawy passed away, in June 2011. Relator Ahmed Mohamed Eshmawy is the son of Mohamed Zein Eshmawy.
Nicole Anderson, a business-license inspector for the city of Minneapolis, visited Z & N on September 1, 2011. She met with relator's uncle, Mohamed Shams Eshmawy, alerted him that the business was no longer licensed, and placarded the business to notify the public of the same. The city, unaware of his death, sent a letter warning Mohamed Zein Eshmawy that his motor-vehicle-repair garage was not licensed, directed him to cease all business activity requiring a license, and included license application materials. The city did not receive a response.
On September 22, 2011, relator, who wished to continue his father's business, registered "Minneapolis Auto Repair Inc." as a new corporation with an address of 4056 Washington Avenue North and submitted a license application to begin operating a motor-vehicle-repair garage on September 23. That same day, city inspectors visited 4056 Washington Avenue North. They knocked on the door several times and announced their presence, but no one answered the door even though the inspectors sensed activity inside. The city, again not knowing that Mohamed Zein Eshmawy had died and that relator sought to take over the business, subsequently fined Mohamed Zein Eshmawy $250 for violating Minneapolis, Minn. Code of Ordinances (MCO) § 317.20 (2013), which prohibits the operation of unlicensed motor-vehicle-repair garages. Relator paid the fine.
Inspectors next visited 4056 Washington Avenue North on September 29, 2011. They observed a person working in the garage. After learning that relator would be taking over the garage, the city fined relator $400, which was paid.
Inspectors visited the address for a fourth time on December 9, 2011. A man greeted them at the door. The inspectors asked him whether he was performing repair work. He denied that he was working even though inspectors noted that his hands were covered in silver paint, saw spray cans near a truck, and smelled spray paint. Another man washed parts near a vehicle that was suspended in the air. The city fined relator $800, which relator paid.
On January 6, 2012, inspectors visited the address a fifth time. Inspectors observed two or three mechanics, including Mohamed Shams Eshmawy, in the building. They smelled spray paint and saw vehicles' hoods raised, lights illuminating vehicles' engines, and vehicles elevated on lifts. Some of the vehicles were taxicabs, including Blue & White taxicabs. Mohamed Shams Eshmawy holds several taxicab licenses in the city, and Blue & White taxicabs are listed as part of his fleet. As evidenced by photographs taken by the inspectors, the building also housed other taxicabs, vans, and SUV-type vehicles. The city fined relator $1, 600. Relator appealed the fine.
Inspectors visited the address a sixth time on March 8, 2012. The inspectors observed Mohamed Shams Eshmawy performing auto repair work on a Blue & White cab while another man stood nearby. Inspectors noticed that the air was cloudy and smoky. Photographic evidence indicates multiple vehicles within the building ...