Louis County District Court File No. 69DU-CV-17-1064
W. Malvick, Hanft Fride, P.A., Duluth, Minnesota (for
Updegraff, Legal Aid Service of Northeastern Minnesota,
Duluth, Minnesota (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Hooten, Presiding Judge; Smith,
Tracy M., Judge; and Smith, John, Judge. [*]
exclusionary rule, as adopted by the United States Supreme
Court and as codified in Minnesota Statutes section 626.21
(2016), is inapplicable to civil eviction actions brought by
private landlords under Minnesota Statutes sections
challenges the district court's eviction judgment,
arguing that the evidence forming the basis of the eviction
should have been suppressed under the Fourth Amendment
exclusionary rule and Minn. Stat. § 626.21 (2016)
because police unlawfully entered and searched his apartment.
He also contends that, even if the evidence seized during the
search is not suppressed, the district court erred by
determining that respondent met its burden of proving that he
violated his lease agreement. Because neither the Fourth
Amendment exclusionary rule nor Minn. Stat. § 626.21
applies in a civil eviction proceeding brought by a private
landlord, and because the district court's finding of a
lease violation is not clearly erroneous, we affirm.
March 23, 2017, property management staff for respondent
Nationwide Housing Corporation, a private business
corporation, notified appellant Wayne Skoglund of its intent
to replace the locks in his apartment in order to make the
locks uniform throughout the building. A few days later, the
property manager and a locksmith arrived at Skoglund's
apartment to change the locks. The property manager knocked
on the door but received no response. Skoglund was present in
the apartment but decided to ignore their request for entry.
Due to previous troubles with Skoglund, the property manager
contacted the police and requested a "civil
standby" while the locks were changed.
Andrew Leibel of the Proctor Police Department and two
Hermantown police officers arrived at the apartment and
knocked on the door to announce their presence. The locksmith
attempted but failed to unlock the door with a master key.
Officer Leibel believed that some obstruction prevented the
door from unlocking, leading him to also believe that
Skoglund was in the apartment. The locksmith proceeded to
open the door by using a drill bit. Skoglund heard the
drilling and looked through the door's peephole. When he
saw the property manager, locksmith, and officers at the
door, he hid in a closet.
the locksmith opened the door, Officer Leibel peered into the
apartment and did not see Skoglund or any other occupants.
Due to their knowledge of police having past incidents with
Skoglund, the officers conducted a welfare check and a
protective sweep of the apartment. During the sweep, the
officers found Skoglund in the closet. They then observed a
bong and containers holding a green leafy substance in
Skoglund's bedroom. Police believed that the substance in
the containers was marijuana. Although the officers seized
the suspected marijuana, they destroyed it without testing
its contents and did not charge Skoglund with a crime.
obtaining a police report relating to the incident,
Nationwide's property management staff notified Skoglund
on April 19, 2017 that it was terminating his lease and that
he had ten days to vacate the apartment. Nationwide later
filed an eviction action under Minn. Stat. § 504B.285,
subd. 1(a)(2) (2016), alleging that Skoglund violated the
lease by possessing illegal drugs on the property. Skoglund
filed a motion to suppress, arguing that any evidence of the
search was inadmissible because the police officers illegally
entered and searched his apartment.
district court held a hearing on June 5, 2017. The district
court denied Skoglund's motion, determining that his
reliance on criminal statutes and the exclusionary rule was
misplaced in a civil eviction proceeding and that it was
reasonable for the officers to conduct a protective sweep of
the apartment. It also concluded that Nationwide satisfied
its burden in proving that Skoglund violated the lease and
therefore was entitled to possession of the property. The
court administrator entered a judgment of eviction. This
the district court err in the eviction action against
Skoglund by not applying the Fourth Amendment exclusionary
rule or Minn. Stat. § 626.21 to suppress evidence
arising from the police ...