County District Court File No. 62-CV-15-2112
C. Hedlund, Daniel E. Gustafson, Joseph C. Bourne, Gustafson
Gluek PLLC, Minneapolis, Minnesota; and
A. Teske, Phillip M. Kitzer, Brian T. Rochel, Teske, Micko,
Katz, Kitzer & Rochel, PLLP, Minneapolis, Minnesota; and
J. Gordon Rudd, Jr., David Cialkowski, Zimmerman Reed, PLLP,
Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Patrick Michenfelder, Throndset
Michenfelder, LLC, St. Michael, Minnesota; and Garrett D.
Blanchfield, Brant D. Penney, Reinhardt, Wendorf &
Blanchfield, St. Paul, Minnesota (attorneys for respondents)
Swanson, Attorney General, Sarah L. Krans, Assistant Attorney
General, St. Paul, Minnesota (for appellants)
Considered and decided by Worke, Presiding Judge; Stauber,
Judge; and Bratvold, Judge.
Minnesota Uniform Disposition of Unclaimed Property Act
(MUPA), Minn. Stat. §§ 345.31-.60 (2016), does not
create an unconstitutional taking and satisfies procedural
certified-question appeal under Minn. R. Civ. App. P.
103.03(i) arises from a constitutional challenge to MUPA.
Appellants, the State of Minnesota and its commissioner of
commerce, urge us to answer the district court's
certified question as to whether MUPA creates an
unconstitutional taking in the negative, and answer the
district court's certified question as to whether MUPA
meets procedural due-process requirements in the affirmative.
We agree with appellants and reverse and remand.
2011, respondent Timothy Hall Jr. did not receive his final
paycheck from his employer. In 2015, Hall learned from his
father that his paycheck had been remitted to appellant
Michael Rothman, Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of
Commerce (commissioner), and was being held by appellant
State of Minnesota (state).
2015, respondent Michael Undlin learned from his attorneys
that the state was holding two pieces of his property
remitted by an insurance company. Undlin began the process of
reclaiming his property.
2011, respondent Mary Wingfield opened an interest-bearing
savings account. In 2014, Wingfield received a letter from
the bank asking her to contact the bank regarding the
account. Wingfield ignored the bank's request.
Wingfield's property was remitted to the commissioner and
held by the state.
Beverly Herron learned from her daughter that the state was
holding her property. Herron's daughter made the
discovery after searching for Herron's name on
www.missingmoney.com. Wingfield and Herron submitted
claims for the return of their property, and each received a
check for the amount of the property that did not include
interest accrued during the time the state held the property.
respondents claimed that they did not receive notice from the
original holder of the property or from the state that their
property had been remitted by the property holder to the
April 8, 2015, respondents filed a proposed class-action
complaint against appellants, claiming that MUPA, with its
intended purpose of protecting consumers by placing unclaimed
property in the state's custody pending return to the
rightful owners, was being used by the state to seize private
property and use it for the state's benefit without any
meaningful effort to locate the rightful owners. Respondents
claimed that the state failed to provide adequate notice of
its takings, which violated the Due Process Clauses of the
United States and Minnesota Constitutions, and that the
state's refusal to return interest that accrued on the
property while in the state's custody violated the
Takings Clauses of the United States and Minnesota
moved to dismiss pursuant to Minn. R. Civ. P. 12.02 (a), (e),
for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction and failure to state
a claim upon which relief may be granted. The matter came
before the district court on August 12, 2015.
December 10, 2015, the district court denied the motion to
dismiss with respect to the above-referenced claims. The
district court determined that respondents sufficiently
alleged a due-process claim, because they alleged that notice
is not reasonably certain to inform those affected. The
district court determined that respondents also sufficiently
alleged a takings claim because appellants took
respondents' property and put it in a fund for public
use, for which respondents are entitled to just compensation.
Appellants petitioned this court for discretionary review. We
denied the petition.
January 14, 2016, appellants moved the district court for an
order certifying three questions as important and doubtful
for appellate review pursuant to Minn. R. Civ. App. P.
103.03(i). The first questioned whether MUPA created "an
unconstitutional taking by not entitling owners to interest
on abandoned property after it is delivered to the
[c]ommissioner." The second asked whether delivery of
property to the commissioner under MUPA violated owners'
procedural due-process rights. Finally, the state questioned
whether it was a proper party to the action.
district court granted appellants' request to certify the
first two questions. The district court asks us to answer the
following certified questions:
1. When presumptively abandoned property has been delivered
to the Minnesota Commissioner of Commerce pursuant to the
Minnesota Uniform Disposition of Unclaimed Property Act . . .
and thereafter placed into the general fund for use by the
State, has the State effected an unconstitutional taking by
failing to compensate owners for the loss of use ...