Anderson v. County of Wright, 86-CV-20-2479

CourtTax Court of Minnesota
Writing for the CourtJane N. Bowman, Judg
PartiesHarlan R. Anderson, Mary J. Anderson, Richard A. Anderson, and Mark W. Anderson Petitioners, v. County of Wright, Respondent.
Decision Date18 June 2021
Docket Number86-CV-20-2479

Harlan R. Anderson, Mary J. Anderson, Richard A. Anderson, and Mark W. Anderson Petitioners,
v.

County of Wright, Respondent.

No. 86-CV-20-2479

Tax Court of Minnesota, Regular Division, Wright County

June 18, 2021


This matter came before the Honorable Jane N. Bowman, Judge of the Minnesota Tax Court, on April 13, 2021, on petitioner Harlan Anderson's motion for leave to amend petition.

Bretta I. Hines and Larry J. Peterson, Peterson, Logren & Kilbury, P.A., represent petitioner Harlan R. Anderson.

Brian J. Asleson, Chief Deputy Wright County Attorney, represents respondent Wright County.

ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR LEAVE TO AMEND PETITION

Jane N. Bowman, Judg

On February 3, 2021, this court ordered Mr. Harlan Anderson to "show cause, if there be any, why this matter should not be dismissed for lack of the statutorily required estate, right, title, interest, or lien upon [certain parcels of real property]." [1] See Minn. Stat. § 278.01, subd. 1(a) (2020). In response, Mr. Anderson brought a motion to amend the pleadings to include three additional petitioners: Mary J. Anderson, Richard A. Anderson, and Mark W. Anderson. The County opposed the motion. Based upon all the files, records, and proceedings herein, the court now makes the following:

ORDER

1. Petitioner Harlan R. Anderson's motion for leave to amend is granted.

2. Mary J. Anderson, Richard A. Anderson, and Mark W. Anderson are added as petitioners to the above-captioned case.

3. The caption of this matter shall henceforth be as set forth above.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

MEMORANDUM

I. Background

On May 27, 2020, Harlan Anderson filed the above-captioned property tax action concerning fifteen parcels, contesting the assessed values as of January 2, 2019 (for Pay-2020 taxes).[2] Although Mr. Anderson has a title or marital interest in nine of the fifteen parcels, he contends-and the County does not dispute-that the fifteen parcels make up an integrated, fully-functioning, family farm.[3]

By way of a motion to partially dismiss, Wright County argued Mr. Anderson did not have the required "estate, right, title, or interest in or lien upon" nine of the fifteen parcels. Anderson v. Cnty. of Wright, No. 86-CV-20-2479 & 86-CV-20-2479, 2021 WL 423922, at *2-3 (Minn. T.C. Feb. 3, 2021). This court denied the County's motion, without prejudice, for lack of an adequately developed record. Id. at *3. Simultaneously, the court filed an order giving Mr. Anderson 30 days to "show cause, if there be any, why this matter should not be dismissed for lack of the statutorily required estate, right, title, interest, or lien upon [nine of the fifteen parcels]." [4] In response, Mr. Anderson, with the assistance of counsel, brought a motion to amend the pleadings to include three additional petitioners: his spouse, Mary J. Anderson; and his sons, Richard A. Anderson and Mark W. Anderson.[5]

II. Governing Law

Chapter 278 specifies what information must be contained in a property tax petition. Minn. Stat. § 278.02 (2020) ("Such petition need not be in any particular form, but shall clearly identify … the land involved, the assessment date, and shall set forth in concise language the claim, defense, or objection asserted."). Only a person with "any estate, right, title, or interest in or lien upon any parcel of land" has statutory standing to bring a petition. Minn. Stat. § 278.01, subd. 1(a).

While amendments to a petition are allowed "only by leave of court" after 21 days have passed from its filing, "leave shall be freely given when justice so requires." Minn. R. Civ. P. 15.01.[6] "Rule 15.01[] is intended to be liberally construed so that cases are decided on their merits." Fore v. Crop Hail Mgmt., 270 N.W.2d 13, 14 (Minn. 1978); see also Fabio v. Bellomo, 504 N.W.2d 758, 761 (Minn. 1993) (holding that leave to amend the pleadings should be freely granted unless it would result in prejudice to the other party). An amendment to a pleading generally relates back to the date of the original pleading "[w]henever the claim or defense asserted in the amended pleading arose out of the conduct, transaction, or occurrence set forth or attempted to be set forth in the original pleading." Minn. R. Civ. P. 15.03.

III. Analysis

In support of the motion for leave to amend, Harlan Anderson, Mary Anderson, Richard Anderson, and Mark Anderson "assert that they individually, jointly, or collectively … have an estate, right, title, interest or lien on all of the parcels referenced in" this case.[7]

In opposition, the County argues Harlan Anderson cannot maintain the petition as to five of the fifteen listed parcels because he does not have record title to those five parcels.[8] In support of its argument, the County filed property...

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