Noteworthy Decisions

Petition of Valeria L Meyer for an Order Determining Boundary Lines. Katie Wahlberg and Tom Olson successfully tried a boundary dispute in Ramsey County involving two properties, both of which were formally registered Torrens. Testifying survey experts disagreed as to the location of a boundary line. Even though a fence had previously been replaced, the court was persuaded that a practical location of boundary was established based on the historical conduct of the landowners who acquiesced in the found location of the common boundary. Meyer Decision 11.17.17.

In the Matter of the Petition of Melvin J. Cummins. Attorneys Tom Olson and Katie Wahlberg obtained a favorable ruling on behalf of a Petitioner seeking a judicial determination of boundary of Torrens property based on boundary by practical location. A Hubbard County judge denied the Respondents’ motion for a new trial or for amended findings. Together with credible testimony and evidence at trial of the location of a historic pasture fence, the court concluded in favor of the Petitioner as to the location of the boundary line based on boundary by practical location. Cummins Decision 4.19.17

Title Insurance Coverage: Exceptions Precluding Coverage. Tom Olson and Katie Wahlberg won a decision by the Minnesota Court of Appeals in favor of a national title insurance company confirming the company’s insurance coverage determination in response to a tender of defense of a boundary dispute between two landowners. The title policy in question contained a survey exception and an exception based on the fact that the insured land was described with an acreage description, not a metes and bounds legal description. The Court of Appeals ruled for the first time in Minnesota that the survey exception from title insurance coverage is applicable to exclude coverage where an accurate survey would have disclosed the location of a later disputed boundary line. Olson and Wahlberg also defended against Appellant’s arguments based on the reasonable expectation doctrine and illusory coverage doctrine, both of which were rejected by the Court of Appeals. Title Insurance Coverage Decision 4.10.17

Litigation: Successful Defense Against Motion to Amend to Assert Counterclaim. In a Scott County case involving the dedication of a public road based on statutory dedication, Katie Wahlberg and Tom Olson successfully defended against a township’s motion to amend its Answer and assert a Counterclaim against the landowners. The township sought to amend its Answer, which denied that an access road was public and denied any township maintenance obligation. The township sought to assert a Counterclaim against the landowners that if the road were deemed public, the property owners’ private driveway should also be declared public. While motions to amend are liberally granted, Olson and Wahlberg successfully defended against the motion where the township failed to present evidence of public use and township maintenance over a period of at least six years as required under Minn. Stat. 160.05. Order Denying Motion to Amend 12.28.16.

In the Matter of the Petition of George K. Lovrien for an Order Determining Boundary Lines. Attorneys Tom Olson and Katie Wahlberg successfully argued an appeal at the Minnesota Court of Appeals.  The case involved a dispute as to the location of a common boundary line between two lakeshore properties. The Court agreed that the Examiner of Titles properly considered the conflicting evidence concerning surveyor methodology and the evidence supported the determination of boundary under Minnesota Statute 508.671. Lovrien Decision 3.21.16

Smida vs. Isanti Pines Tree Farm LLC, State of Minnesota, Court of Appeals, A15-0437 (2015) Attorneys Katie Wahlberg and Tom Olson successfully argued an appeal at the Minnesota Court of Appeals. The Court agreed that a non-exclusive easement for access over forested land planned for future development was properly created; then not lost by abandonment or adverse possession even though the land was left undeveloped and the easement has not yet been utilized.  Trespass and misrepresentation claims were also rejected by the Court.  Smida Decision Court of Appeals 11.30.2015

In the Matter of the Petition of Melvin J. Cummins for an Order Determining Boundary Lines, State of Minnesota, Court of Appeals, A14-0737 (2015) Katie Wahlberg and Tom Olson recently won a boundary law case at the Minnesota Court of Appeals. The decision involved issues such as Torrens registration, boundary by practical location, as well as survey and platting issues. The decision also involved the legal theory called laches which can prevent a person from asserting their rights under circumstances where there is an unreasonable delay in asserting those rights. Cummins Decision 2.2.2015

Elkhoury, Inc. vs. 35 E Shops, Ramsey County District Court File # 62-CV-12-4937  (2013) Shaun Redford, Jackie Rubi and Tom Olson defended a landlord in two consecutive lawsuits with a tenant over interpretation of terms of a commercial lease of a liquor store building.  The suit challenged the landlord’s imposition of certain maintenance, repair and replacement costs, right of access, right to control what repairs were executed, employment of expert testimony concerning the repairs.  Tenant prevailed in one minor dispute.  Despite the split ruling, Ramsey County District Court ruled in Olson & Lucas’ client’s favor on the landlord’s petition for attorney fees and costs and awarded the landlord over $100,000 which the landlord then recovered.

Gunn vs. Husman, et al.  27-CV-11-23454 At the appointment of a title insurer, Tom Olson and Shaun Redford successfully defended an owner where a deed in the chain of title was a forgery.  We argued that the victim of the forgery slept on her rights, failed to file Notice of Lis Pendens or otherwise bring any action in a probate or in District Court and was stopped by her negligent conduct to set aside the forged deed.

Attorneys Olson & Redford then brought a separate action for the title insurer intervening in another title insurer’s action to defeat coverage afforded to Olson & Lucas’ client’s seller.  That insurer funded settlement of the forgery case and reimbursed the legal fees expended by the first title insurer.

Benge vs. Aardahl, et al.   71-CV-12-1678 Shaun Redford and Tom Olson forced dismissal of a suit challenging  an insured’s right of access to lake front property, and resolving a boundary line.  Plaintiff dismissed his lawsuit without any payment and agreed to access and property line sought by Olson & Lucas’ client.

Brad Rixmann  70-CV-13-19221 (Scott County District Court) The owner of Pawn America sued Olson & Lucas’ developer client claiming adverse possession of acreage adjacent to Prior Lake.  Jackie Rubi and Tom Olson were hired by a title insurer to defend its insured’s ownership of the land.  They succeeded in gaining dissolution of a temporary restraining order preventing our developer client from proceeding with development and lot sales.  They forced the plaintiff to drop his claims and to reimburse Olson & Lucas’ clients legal fees.

Wendt v. City of Prior Lake, et al. 70-CV-13-17744 At the appointment of a title insurer, Tom Olson and Jackie Rubi successfully quieted title to lakefront property located on Spring Lake. Olson & Lucas’ client, who owned the lakefront property, had received a deed to the property that did not include the entire legal description of her entire lot; instead the description ended roughly 20 feet shy of the shoreline where the City of Prior Lake had once owned a right-of-way which it vacated in 1977.  Olson & Lucas established their client’s ownership of the full property, up to and including the shoreline.

Ruhland v. 101 Farms, LLC, et al., No. 27-ET-CV-11-2040 (Minn. Dist. May 6, 2013).  Jackie Rubi and Tom Olson successfully defended the owner of a torrens title against an adverse claim asserted in violation of the Member Control Agreement of a Limited Liability Company.  Order Granting Summary Judgment

Alliance Bank v. Lecy Construction, 2012 WL 6734457 (Minn.Ct. App. Dec. 31, 2012). Tom Olson, Shaun Redford and Jackie Rubi, successfully represented their title insurer client in defense of a lawsuit brought by the builder and homeowners over financing and payment for a $3 Million dollar residence.  Multiple claims asserted included breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, consumer fraud, and negligence.  Bank officers had wrongly taken certain commissions.  All claims against the title insurer client were dismissed by the Trial Court and the Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed the dismissal, based both on the statute of limitations and on the merits of the many claims.  Review was denied by the Supreme Court.

Thomas B. Olson & Associates v. Leffert, Jay & Polglaze, P.A., 756 N.W.2d 907 (Minn. Ct. App. 2008), review denied (Minn. Jan. 20, 2009).In this published case, the Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed important principles of contract formation and the fiduciary duties expected of attorneys who handle settlement proceeds.

D.R. Horton, Inc. v. Frederick Radintz, et. al., Minnesota Court of Appeals A09-0246 (September 15, 2009).In this case which was cited in the 2009 Annual Real Estate Institute materials, the Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed a District Court decision holding that Olson & Lucas’s clients were entitled to over $1,500,000.00 more than was tendered by national developer D.R. Horton for the purchase of a portion of Olson & Lucas’s client’s property. This case involved the interpretation and construction of an Option Contract.

International Financial Services, Inc. v. Franz Engineering, 515 N.W.2d 379 (Minn. Ct. App. 1994), rev’d 534 N.W.2d 261 (Minn. 1995). Our client financed the purchase of high technology equipment which failed to perform as promised by the manufacturer. We participated in litigation over the non-performance of that equipment, and provided assistance to the claimant. The case resulted in a jury verdict over one million dollars; and appeals to both the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court where complex uniform commercial code issues involving Risk of Loss; Disclaimers of Merchantability and failure of warranty to serve its essential purpose were resolved. The case was mentioned in the Uniform Commercial Code service reporter. Our client also won judgment for several hundred thousand dollars enforcing its financing lease.

Capitol Indem. Corp. v. West Fargo Plumbing & Heating, Inc., 145 F.3d 998 (8th Cir.Minn. 1998) is a case where the U. S. District Court and the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with our interpretation of the Torrens real estate title registration law. A title agent held a closing but failed to timely register the deed from seller to buyer. A mortgage for over one million dollars from the seller to a surety company was registered against the property prior to recording of the Deed. The title insurance company hired us to preserve the Buyer’s title. We successfully argued that the buyer’s physical possession was an exception to the general rule in torrens that first recorded document wins.

West Metro Lumber, Inc. v. J.F. Johnson General Development Corp., 2001 WL 1464262 (Minn. Ct. App. 2001). West Metro succeeded in enforcing its mechanic’s lien upon Eagle Creek Townhomes in Shakopee. Eagle Creek raised a myriad of issues in defense against the lien claim. West Metro was hampered by the fact it had only an oral contract with the builder who was unable to pay; West Metro acknowledged it had not regularly sold lumber to townhome projects of this size so Eagle Creek argued its price to the builder should not be prima facie evidence of the reasonable value of the lien. Though a quotation spoke of a fixed price, evidence was that the price varied week by week over a six month project. There were other disputes over an expert that Eagle Creek identified shortly before trial; discovery disputes. Total verdict for West Metro Lumber was over $200,000. The Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld a substantial attorney’s fees and costs award to Olson’s client.

Rosengren v. GMAC Mortg. Corp., 2001 WL 1149478, Bankr. L. Rep. P 78,512 (D.Minn. 2001). This case involved a Federal Court action brought by a debtor against our client, the borrower’s mortgage lender, where the Plaintiff claimed certain violations of the automatic stay provision of the U. S. Bankruptcy Code. We successfully defended the lender who was ordered to pay under $200 in damages after offering the debtor thousands to settle.

Ronning v. Nikolai, 2001 WL 799681 (Minn. Ct. App. 2001). This Court of Appeals’ decision involved the successful litigation of a boundary claim against three neighboring landowners. Our clients claimed title to a 500′ strip of land by virtue of boundary by practical location and by adverse possession for more than 15 years. The case and others like it resulted in Tom Olson’s publication of an article in The Hennepin Lawyer which is attached as well as seminar materials from a seminar on boundary line issues.