of Appeals Office of Appellate Courts
Michael O. Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney, Louis K.
Robards, Assistant County Attorney, Minneapolis, Minnesota,
Simatic, Biersdorf & Associates, P.A., Minneapolis,
Minnesota, for appellants.
J. Magnuson, Ryan Marth, Kevin D. Collado, Robins Kaplan LLP,
Minneapolis, Minnesota, for amicus curiae Minnesota State Bar
Association Appellate Practice Section.
rule of Sauter v. Wasemiller, 389 N.W.2d 200 (Minn.
1986), does not require litigants to move for a new trial to
preserve objections to pretrial orders that decide motions in
case arises out of a condemnation proceeding initiated by
respondent Hennepin County ("the County") to seize
the property of appellants Sandip and Jagruti Bhakta
("the Bhaktas") by eminent domain. Court-appointed
commissioners issued an award of compensation to the Bhaktas
for the taking. Dissatisfied with the award, the Bhaktas
appealed the commissioners' decision to the district
court and the matter was set for trial. The Bhaktas brought
several motions in limine before trial, all of which were
denied by the district court. After the district court
entered judgment, the Bhaktas appealed to the court of
appeals. The court of appeals dismissed the portion of their
appeal arising out of the orders denying the motions in
limine because the Bhaktas did not raise their objections in
a motion for a new trial. We conclude that a motion for a new
trial is not required to preserve objections to pretrial
orders that decide motions in limine for appellate review.
2012, the County filed a condemnation petition with the
district court to acquire the Bhaktas' Brooklyn Park
motel as part of a project to upgrade an adjacent county
road. The district court granted title and possession of the
property to the County and appointed three commissioners to
determine the damages owed by the County for the property.
Subsequently the County made a quick-take payment of $765,
443 for the Bhaktas' property. In October 2014, the
commissioners determined that the amount of just compensation
for the taking was $760, 000. The Bhaktas appealed the
commissioners' decision to the district court, where the
main issue was the minimum compensation the Bhaktas were owed
under Minn. Stat. § 117.187 (2018).
was scheduled for April 4, 2017. On March 21, 2017, the
Bhaktas filed five written motions in limine. These motions
included requests to exclude the County's written
minimum-compensation analysis and any testimony about minimum
compensation, including testimony by the County's
minimum-compensation consultant.The motions in limine were
thoroughly briefed: the Bhaktas filed each of the five
motions separately; the County responded to each motion in
writing; the Bhaktas filed replies; the County filed an
additional responsive brief addressing all five motions; and
finally, the Bhaktas moved to strike the County's
additional response as improper and filed a sur-reply
supporting the five motions.
morning of trial, but before the jury was selected, the
district court heard argument on the motions in limine.
Before trial started, the court denied all five motions, and
the challenged evidence was admitted at trial. The jury
returned a verdict of $810, 000 for the Bhaktas, more than
the quick-take payment of $765, 443. The district court
initially entered judgment for the difference. But the court
subsequently vacated that judgment and entered a new judgment
for $0 after granting the County's motion to offset
delinquent utility charges and real estate taxes owed by the
Bhaktas but paid by the County. The Bhaktas did not move for
a new trial. Instead, they appealed the judgment on several
grounds, including the denial of the motions in limine.
published special term opinion, the court of appeals
dismissed the portion of the appeal challenging the district
court's denial of the motions in limine to exclude the
minimum-compensation analysis and the testimony of the city
assessor. Cty. of Hennepin v. Bhakta, 907 N.W.2d
908, 912 (Minn.App. 2017). The court of appeals held that, to
preserve those rulings for appellate review, the ...