United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Clarence Johnson and Pauline Johnson, pro se.
Elizabeth C. Broodeen-Kou and Mary D. Tietjen, KENNEDY &
GRAVEN CHARTERED, for City of Richfield.
Frederick J. Sheriden, HENNEPIN COUNTY ATTORNEY'S OFFICE,
for Hennepin County.
Patrick J. Schiltz United States District Judge
2016, defendant Hennepin County (the “County”)
purchased the residential property of plaintiffs Clarence and
Pauline Johnson in order to expand the roadways in Richfield.
ECF No. 1, Ex. B. The County paid the Johnsons $225, 000 for
their home-an amount that exceeded what the Johnsons' own
appraiser said was fair market value-and the Johnsons used
the money to purchase a new home. Id., Exs. C, H, I.
As part of the purchase agreement, the County also agreed to
pay the Johnsons an interest differential to compensate for
the higher interest rate on their new mortgage; to relocate
the Johnsons' gazebo, whirlpool tub, and certain
appliances to their new home; and to install a freestanding
shed and accessibility ramp at their new home. Id.,
growing dissatisfied with the terms of the sale and with the
County's performance under the contract, the Johnsons
filed a complaint alleging that the County had taken their
property without paying just compensation in violation of the
Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Johnsons also
asserted a number of state-law claims, including claims that
the County had breached the terms of the purchase agreement.
ECF No. 1. After the County moved to dismiss the
Johnsons' complaint, ECF Nos. 16, the Johnsons moved for
judgment on the pleadings and asked for leave to amend their
complaint, ECF Nos. 10, 32, 43, 55.
Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) dated
December 5, 2017, Magistrate Judge Hildy Bowbeer recommended
granting the County's motion to dismiss, denying the
Johnsons' motions for judgment on the pleadings, and
denying the Johnsons' requests to amend their complaint.
ECF No. 62. This matter is before the Court on the
Johnsons' objection to the R&R. ECF No. 63. The Court
has conducted a de novo review. See 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3). Based on that review, the
Court overrules the Johnsons' objection, adopts the
R&R, and dismisses the action.
Johnsons' only federal claim is that the County took
their private property for public use without paying just
compensation in violation of the Takings Clause of the Fifth
Amendment. To succeed on their claim, the Johnsons would have
to prove that (1) the County took their property; (2) the
County did not pay the Johnsons just compensation for that
property; and (3) the Johnsons exhausted their state-law
remedies. The Johnsons can prove none of these things.
the County did not take the Johnsons' property. The
County informed the Johnsons that it planned to take
their property through eminent-domain proceedings, but those
proceedings turned out to be unnecessary because the Johnsons
(who were represented by counsel) agreed to sell their
property to the County. At that point, the matter
“passed out of the range of the Fifth Amendment.”
Albrecht v. United States, 329 U.S. 599, 603 (1947).
Because the County did not take the Johnsons'
property but instead purchased that property, the
County's obligations to the Johnsons are measured not by
the Takings Clause, but by the terms of their contract.
See DeNaples v. C.I.R., 674 F.3d 172, 179 (3d Cir.
2012) (“The DeNaples and Pennsylvania created an
agreement completely separate from the judicial process and
the constitutional requirement of just compensation, as such
the parties' rights and obligations are defined solely by
the agreement's terms.”). The Johnsons might have a
viable breach-of-contract claim against the County under
Minnesota law, but they do not have a viable takings claim
against the County under federal law.
even if the County had taken the Johnsons'
property, the Johnsons would not have a plausible claim that
they did not receive just compensation. The County's
appraiser estimated the value of the Johnsons' property
as $196, 000. The Johnsons' appraiser estimated the value
of the property as $210, 000. The County paid the Johnsons
$225, 000. Under the circumstances, it is difficult to know
how the compensation received by the Johnsons could possibly
be found “unjust.” Finally, even if the County
had taken the Johnsons' property, and even if the
Johnsons could show that the compensation they received was
unjust, the Johnsons would have to show that they
“exhausted any available state procedure for seeking
just compensation and been denied it.” Snaza v.
City of Saint Paul, 548 F.3d 1178, 1181 (8th Cir. 2008).
The Johnsons cannot make this showing, as they did not
commence any state proceedings against the County.
these reasons, the Court agrees with Judge Bowbeer that the
Johnsons' federal claim must be dismissed with prejudice.
And, for the reasons described by Judge Bowbeer, the Court
declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the
Johnsons' state-law claims. If they wish, the Johnsons
may pursue their state-law claims in state court.
on the foregoing, and on all of the files, records, and
proceedings herein, the Court OVERRULES plaintiffs'
objection [ECF No. 63] and ADOPTS the R&R [ECF ...