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Takings / Undesirable Land Use: Repetitive Complaint Precludes Federal Suit Challenging City's Nuisance Abatement

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

A landowner was unable to recover in federal court for a city's removal and destruction of his property. Why? The complaint underlying his federal suit was nearly identical to his state court complaint---even though his appeal asserted new facts and claims.

Facts: Landowner Leonard Anderson unsuccessfully sued the City of St. Paul, Minnesota for, among other things, taking and destroying property that it collected from his land in 2011. Anderson himself used his 2.3 acres to collect and store items like ''barrels, boats, and broken lawnmowers.'' The City was not impressed by his collection, declared it to be a public nuisance, and sought for some years to persuade Anderson to clean up his property. Anderson did not, and in 2011 the City issued a ''notice to proceed with nuisance abatement'' that instructed a city contractor to enter Anderson's land and remove and dispose of various items. The notice came more than a month after the City warned Anderson that if he did not abate the nuisance on his own, the City would do it for him.

Following the City's instruction, the contractor removed Anderson's collection, thereby abating the nuisance. Anderson sued the City and others in Minnesota state court, alleging, in part, that the defendants violated the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. The state trial court granted summary judgment to the plaintiffs.

Anderson then sued the City and twelve others in federal district court, based on allegations similar to those in the state claim: The suit pled almost identical federal claims---violations of the Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments---relying on the 2011 abatement (in which the contractor entered Anderson's l[...]

Next: Zoning / Undesirable Land Use: Landfill Prohibition Use Was Retroactive, Thus Unconstitutional
 
Prev: Environmental: Building Bridge Through Park Was Reasonable Where Alternative Was More Harmful
 
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