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Radford v. Kanabec County of Minnesota

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

February 3, 2014

Amy S. Radford, Plaintiff,
v.
Kanabec County of Minnesota, Kroschel Township of Minnesota, Norman Loren, Terry F. Roemhildt, Rhys Roemhildt, and Airizes Miller, Defendants.

Amy S. Radford, Pro Se Plaintiff.

Joseph J. Langel and Timothy A. Sullivan, Ratwik Roszak & Maloney, for Defendant Kanabec County of Minnesota.

Andrea B. Smith and Paul D. Reuvers, Iverson Reuvers Condon, for Defendant Kroschel Township of Minnesota.

Bradley A. Kletscher and Tammy J. Schemmel, Barna Guzy & Steffen, Ltd., Norman Loren, Attorney at Law, for Defendant Norman Loren.

Terry F. Roemhildt and Rhys Roemhildt, Pro Se Defendants.

Airizes Miller, Pro Se Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

SUSAN RICHARD NELSON, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter is before the Court for consideration of Plaintiff's Objections [Doc. No. 89] to United States Magistrate Judge Leo I. Brisbois's December 30, 2013, Report and Recommendation ("R&R") [Doc. No. 88]. The Magistrate Judge recommended that: (1) Defendant Kroschel Township of Minnesota's Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. No. 37] be granted and that all of Plaintiff's claims against the Township be dismissed with prejudice; (2) Defendant Kanabec County of Minnesota's Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. No. 45] be granted and that all of Plaintiff's claims against the County be dismissed with prejudice; (3) Defendant Norman Loren's Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. No. 56] be granted and that all of Plaintiff's claims against Defendant Loren be dismissed with prejudice; (4) Plaintiff Amy S. Radford's Counter-Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. No. 65] be denied; and (5) Plaintiff's remaining claims against Defendants Terry Roemhildt, Rhys Roemhildt, and Airizes Miller be dismissed without prejudice. (Dec. 30, 2013, Report and Recommendation at 29 [Doc. No. 88].) For the reasons that follow, the Court overrules Plaintiff's Objections and adopts the R&R in its entirety.

II. BACKGROUND

The Magistrate Judge's R&R documents the factual and procedural background of this case, and the Court incorporates it by reference. This case concerns real property in Kanabec County, Minnesota. Defendant Airizes Miller held record title to this property. Miller obtained this property by quitclaim deed from Visions Real Estate Holding Co. Inc., which is owned by Defendant Terry Roemhildt. Radford v. Miller, No. A11-298, 2012 WL 1380262, at *1 (Minn.Ct.App. Apr. 23, 2012). In 2005, Miller recorded the deed with the Kanabec County Recorder's office. Id . In 2008, Miller transferred the land back to Roemhildt by quitclaim deed, but Roemhildt never recorded the deed. Id . In 2009, Miller sold the land to Plaintiff Amy Radford for $39, 000, and Plaintiff recorded the deed with Kanabec County. Id.

After finalizing her agreement with Miller, Plaintiff and her family visited the property several times in preparation to build a permanent home. Id . During one of Plaintiff's visits, she found a note from Roemhildt stating that he owned the land. Id . Plaintiff and Roemhildt discussed the property, after which Roemhildt sent documents about his quitclaim deed to Plaintiff. Id . After conducting a title search and visiting the recorder's office, Plaintiff confirmed that the land was Miller's to sell. Id.

Subsequently, Miller tried to cancel his purchase agreement with Plaintiff. Nonetheless, he continued accepting monthly payments from Plaintiff, and Plaintiff continued developing the property. Id . At Miller's direction, Roemhildt placed "no trespassing" signs on the property and showed up at the property. Id . Consequently, Plaintiff filed suit against Miller, Terry Roemhildt, Michelle Roemhildt, and Visions Real Estate in state court, asserting that: (1) she was the rightful owner of the subject property; (2) the defendants conspired to commit fraud and deprive her of rights to the property; (3) she was entitled to damages based on punitive nuisance, trespass, and invasion of privacy; and (4) the damages owed by the defendants offset the $36, 000 that she still owed on her contract for deed. Id . The jury found that Terry Roemhildt did not intentionally intrude on Plaintiff's seclusion but Miller did, and Plaintiff was awarded $20, 000 in damages. Id. at *2. The state district court found that Miller had title to the disputed land, subject to the purchase agreement with Plaintiff. Id . The Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed. Id. at *5.

During the state court action, Defendants Miller, Roemhildt, and their attorney, Norman Loren, recorded additional real estate documents with the County. These documents included a mortgage issued to Roemhildt by Miller. (Loren Aff. ¶ 7 [Doc. No. 61].)

Also during the state court action, Plaintiff applied for and was denied a building permit with Kroschel Township, due to the pending state court suit and the Township's inability to identify the property owner. (Compl. at 8 [Doc. No. 1]; Dep. of Amy S. Radford at 82-86 [Doc. No. 50-1].) After the state court suit concluded, Plaintiff applied again and received a building permit in August 2011. (Radford Dep. at 90-91.)

Before the state court action and before Plaintiff obtained the purchase agreement from Miller, the subject property had tax issues. In 2006, Miller stopped paying taxes on the property, and the property was placed on Kanabec County's delinquent tax list in early 2007. (Aff. of Roberta Anderson ¶ 3 [Doc. No. 49].) The County followed statutory procedures to initiate the tax forfeiture process. (Id. ¶¶ 4-6.)

When Plaintiff signed the purchase agreement for the property, she knew that the property taxes on the subject property were in arrears. (Radford Dep. at 25.) Because the property taxes were delinquent, Plaintiff could not record the purchase agreement immediately to demonstrate her ownership rights. In April 2012, Plaintiff contacted the County Auditor's Office, requesting information about the process for obtaining a payment plan. (Anderson Aff. ¶ 6.) Plaintiff was told that while she could pay the taxes entirely, she needed to be the owner-of-record in order to confess judgment and enter into a payment plan. (Id.) That same year, the five-year redemption period under the tax forfeiture process expired, and the County Auditor's office proceeded with the tax forfeiture process. (Id. ¶ 7.)

In September 2012, the County Auditor entered a Certificate of Forfeiture, completing the forfeiture process. (Id. ¶ 11.) But after realizing that Plaintiff should have been allowed to confess judgment and enter into a payment plan, the County Auditor submitted an Application for Cancellation of Forfeiture, and the Minnesota Department of Revenue cancelled and reversed the forfeiture. (Id. ¶ 13.) As of June 21, 2013, Plaintiff had not returned a confession of judgment or made any payment of property taxes. (Id. ¶ 16.)

Plaintiff filed the present suit on August 14, 2012. She alleges a general claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Count 1); violation of the Fifth Amendment Due Process and Takings Clause against all Defendants (Count 2); intentional misrepresentation against Kanabec County and Kroschel Township (Count 3); slander of title against all Defendants (Count 4); and willful trespass against Terry Roemhildt and Rhys Roemhildt ...


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