Court of Appeals 3.24.09

Two cases of interest released today:

– A published decision in Halla Nursery v. Chanhassen reversing a district court order preventing Chanhassen from enforcing its sign ordinance.  The facts are quite unique – most of the decision applies facts to a 1997 judgment between the parties, in place of ordinances.  The opinion eventually comes around to applying “vested rights” doctrine, both to the judgment and to the City’s attempts to enforce its sign ordinance.  In both realms, the Court of Appeals finds no vested rights – the owner is supposed to know the rules that apply to them, even when government officials do not.  This is the latest in a string of recent cases that have reinforced the notion that the government at large will not be held responsible for the mistakes and mis-statements of any of its officials. 

– An unpublished decision in Minnesota Commerical Railway Co. v. Rice Creek Watershed District, which applies the airport-noise (Alevizos) takings standard to water projects – here, whether an RCWD project caused damage to a railway bridge.  The analysis is light as the facts to pin blame on RCWD seem to be in short supply; the railway had a thirty-year gap in their maintenance records for the bridge from the early 70s to just before RCWD installed their project.  The opinion also briefly touches on statutory immunity and the value of a good administrative record.

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