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LLC v. City of Minneapolis

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

December 23, 2014

DRB #24, LLC, a Minnesota Limited Liability Company on behalf of itself, and all those real property owners similarly situated in the City of Minneapolis; 701 Newton Avenue North, Minneapolis, Minnesota, on behalf of itself, and all those similarly situated real properties located in the City of Minneapolis, Minnesota, Plaintiffs - Appellants
v.
City of Minneapolis, a Municipal Corporation, Defendant - Appellee, John Doe; Mary Roe, Defendants

Submitted October 9, 2014

Page 1186

Appeal from United States District Court for the District of Minnesota - Minneapolis.

For DRB #24, LLC, a Minnesota Limited Liability Company on behalf of itself, and all those real property owners similarly situated in the City of Minneapolis, 701 Newton Avenue North, Minneapolis, Minnesota, on behalf of itself, and all those similarly situated real properties located in the City of Minneapolis, Minnesota, Plaintiffs - Appellants: Mark J. Kallenbach, Minneapolis, MN.

For City of Minneapolis, a Municipal Corporation, Defendant - Appellee: Kristin R. Sarff, Gregory P. Sautter, Susan Lee Segal, MINNEAPOLIS CITY ATTORNEY, Minneapolis, MN.

Before RILEY, Chief Judge, WOLLMAN and BYE, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 1187

RILEY, Chief Judge.

DRB #24, LLC and 701 Newton Avenue North, Minneapolis, Minnesota (collectively DRB), brought suit challenging the City of Minneapolis's (city) vacant building registration fee. The district court,[1] granting summary judgment in the city's favor, determined the city had given DRB proper notice of its intent to assess the fee, and DRB waived any objections to the fee because it did not raise them within thirty days after the fee was levied, as required by Minnesota law. We now affirm.[2]

I. BACKGROUND

The city imposes an annual vacant building registration fee on owners of vacant buildings " to recover all costs incurred by the city for monitoring and regulating vacant buildings, including nuisance abatement, enforcement and administrative costs." Minneapolis Code of Ordinances (M.C.O.) § 249.80(j)(1). If unpaid, the city can levy and collect the fee as a special assessment against the property pursuant to the procedures in M.C.O. § 227.100. See id. § 249.80(j)(3).

DRB owns a vacant building in Minneapolis and for several years has failed to pay the vacant building registration fee. On June 16, 2011, DRB received notice the city intended to assess $6,550 for DRB's

Page 1188

unpaid 2010 fee. After a hearing attended by DRB, an administrative hearing officer levied the fee. This process repeated in 2012--DRB received notice on April 20 of the city's intent to assess $6,746 for its unpaid 2011 fee and, after an administrative hearing, the fee was levied May 31, 2012. DRB did not appeal the assessment of either fee, but instead brought a separate suit in state court--on behalf of itself and similarly situated landowners--arguing the fees violated Minnesota statutory law, Minnesota common law, and the United States and Minnesota ...


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