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GH Holdings, LLC v. Minnesota Department of Commerce

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

December 23, 2013

GH Holdings, LLC, Petitioner,
v.
Minnesota Department of Commerce, Respondent, Minnesota Petroleum Tank Release Compensation Board, Respondent.

Commissioner of Commerce

Daniel W. Voss, The Law Offices of Daniel W. Voss, PLLC, Minneapolis, Minnesota (for petitioner)

Lori Swanson, Attorney General, Michael J. Tostengard, Assistant Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota (for respondents)

Considered and decided by Schellhas, Presiding Judge; Stauber, Judge; and Bjorkman, Judge.

SYLLABUS

When the Minnesota Petroleum Tank Release Compensation Board adopted Minn. R. 2890.4600, subp. 2(A) (2013), it exceeded its statutory authority by purporting to limit the evidence in a contested case to the written record submitted to the Minnesota Petroleum Tank Release Compensation Board. The limitation of evidence in Minn. R. 2890.4600, subp. 2(A), is therefore declared to be invalid.

OPINION

SCHELLHAS, Judge

Invoking this court's original jurisdiction under Minn. Stat. §§ 14.44–.45 (2012), petitioner challenges the validity of Minn. R. 2890.4600, subp. 2(A), which purports to limit the evidence in a contested case to the evidence previously submitted to respondent board. Petitioner argues that rule 2890.4600, subpart 2(A), exceeds respondent-board's statutory authority and violates petitioner's right to due process. Because we conclude that respondent-board exceeded its statutory authority in adopting the rule, we declare the rule to be invalid. We therefore do not address petitioner's constitutional argument.

FACTS

Petitioner GH Holdings LLC (GH) claims that, when excavating property for redevelopment in Rochester, it discovered releases from two underground gasoline storage tanks that date back to the early 1900s. GH's environmental consultant surveyed the releases, determined the extent of the contamination, and oversaw GH's voluntary cleanup of the site. GH sought reimbursement from respondent Minnesota Petroleum Tank Release Compensation Board (the board) for GH's response costs, including excavation; treatment; and disposal costs of 1, 872 cubic yards of contaminated soil. The board denied GH's application in its entirety on the grounds that the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) did not order any corrective action and therefore GH's costs were not corrective-action costs. GH appealed the denial as a contested case. An administrative law judge (ALJ) scheduled a hearing.

Consistent with Minn. R. 2890.4600, subp. 2(A), the board argued that the evidence the ALJ can consider is limited to the written record previously submitted to the board. GH petitioned this court for a declaratory judgment to determine the validity of Minn. R. 2890.4600, subp. 2(A). The ALJ stayed the contested-case proceeding, pending a decision by this court on the petition for declaratory judgment. A special-term panel of this court ruled that GH could proceed with its petition for declaratory judgment.

ISSUE

Is the challenged portion of Minn. R. 2890.4600, subp. 2(A), invalid because the board exceeded its statutory authority when it adopted the rule, purporting to limit evidence in a contested case to ...


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