Cannon Falls Oil Co. v. Minn. Dep't of Transp., A16-0672

CourtCourt of Appeals of Minnesota
PartiesCannon Falls Oil Company, Inc., petitioner, Appellant, v. Minnesota Department of Transportation, Respondent.
Docket NumberA16-0672
Decision Date19 December 2016

Cannon Falls Oil Company, Inc., petitioner, Appellant,
Minnesota Department of Transportation, Respondent.



December 19, 2016

This opinion will be unpublished and may not be cited except as provided by Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2014).

Bjorkman, Judge

Goodhue County District Court
File No. 25-CV-15-785

David M. Jann, Bruce Jones, Michelle E. Weinberg, Faegre Baker Daniels, LLP, Minneapolis, Minnesota (for appellant)

Lori Swanson, Attorney General, Jeffrey S. Thompson, Assistant Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota (for respondent)

Considered and decided by Kirk, Presiding Judge; Bjorkman, Judge; and Jesson, Judge.



In this mandamus action seeking inverse condemnation, appellant challenges the grant of summary judgment to respondent, arguing the district court erred by denying

Page 2

compensation for respondent's unconstitutional taking. Because a taking did not occur, we affirm.


Appellant Cannon Falls Oil Company, Inc. owns a parcel of land (the property) on which it operates a gas station, convenience store, and car wash. The property is located at 1103 Fourth Street South in Cannon Falls. The western boundary of the property abuts Fourth Street (a north-south road) while the northern, southern, and eastern boundaries abut private property. A road runs perpendicular to and intersects Fourth Street across from the property, forming a T-shaped intersection. Prior to 2014, both Fourth Street and the intersecting road were part of County Highway 24.

Prior to 2014, the spur of County Highway 24 that ran perpendicular to Fourth Street intersected Highway 52 at an at-grade intersection approximately one block west of the property. Patrons could access the property by exiting Highway 52 at the intersection, traveling one block east, and then crossing Fourth Street at the T-shaped intersection. Fourth Street also intersected Highway 52 at an at-grade intersection located approximately 1,900 feet south of the property.

In 2013, respondent Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) commenced a project to transform Highway 52 into a controlled-access highway (the project). As part of the project, both at-grade intersections of County Highway 24 and Highway 52 were closed. In addition, Goodhue County relocated County Highway 24. The spur of County Highway 24 that ran east from Highway 52 to the T-shaped intersection was renamed Hickory Drive. Hickory Drive no longer intersects Highway 52; it ends in a

Page 3

cul-de-sac. Fourth Street still runs south from the property. But instead of veering to the west and intersecting Highway 52, it continues south and veers to the east, ultimately intersecting the relocated County Highway 24 at a roundabout. The new County Highway 24 then continues westward to another roundabout, which allows access to Highway 52 via an on-ramp.

On April 15, 2015, Cannon Oil petitioned for a writ of mandamus, seeking to compel MnDOT to commence condemnation proceedings. Cannon Oil argued that the property abuts the County Highway 24 right-of-way, and therefore it had a property right of access to and from County Highway 24. Cannon Oil further argued that this right included reasonable access to and from the main thoroughfare—Highway 52. Cannon Oil asserted that the project constituted a taking of its property rights for two reasons. First, the project installed cul-de-sacs that impacted use of the roadways abutting the property. Second, patrons can no longer travel between County Highway 24 and Highway 52, the main thoroughfare, in a reasonably convenient and suitable manner. Cannon Oil cited a significant decrease in revenue as evidence the project resulted in a diminution of the property's market value.

Both parties moved for summary judgment. Cannon Oil argued that a taking occurred and that it was entitled to compensation under Minn. Stat. § 160.08, subd. 5 (2014). MnDOT asserted the case should be dismissed as a matter of law because the property does not abut Highway 52 (so the project did not appropriate Cannon Oil's access rights to Highway 52), the relocation of County Highway 24 was not compensable, and the

Page 4

project did not disturb the property's access to Fourth Street, the only street the property abuts.

Following a hearing, the district court granted MnDOT's motion for summary judgment. The district court reasoned that Cannon Oil did not have a property right of access to Highway 52, and therefore the project did not result in a taking. The district court further noted that the only road abutting the property is Fourth Street, and the project did not result in the construction of a cul-de-sac limiting access to that road. Cannon Oil appeals.


On appeal from summary judgment, we review de novo whether there are any genuine issues of material fact and whether the district court erred in applying the law. Ruiz v. 1st Fid. Loan Servicing, LLC, 829 N.W.2d 53, 56 (Minn. 2013). We view the evidence in "the light most favorable to the party against whom summary judgment was granted." STAR Centers, Inc. v. Faegre & Benson, L.L.P., 644 N.W.2d 72, 76-77 (Minn. 2002). A genuine issue of material fact exists when there is sufficient evidence that could lead a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party. DLH, Inc. v. Russ, 566 N.W.2d 60, 69 (Minn. 1997).

Under Minn. Const. art. 1, § 13, "[p]rivate property shall not be taken, destroyed or damaged for public use without just compensation therefor, first paid or secured." Minn. Stat. § 160.08, subd. 4 (2014), provides that "[p]roperty rights, including rights of access, air, view, and light, may be acquired [by state] road authorities with respect to both private and public property by purchase, gift, or condemnation." Property owners may petition

Page 5

the district court for a writ of mandamus to compel the state to initiate condemnation proceedings when they believe the state has effectuated an unconstitutional taking. Dale Props., LLC v. State, 638 N.W.2d 763, 765 (Minn. 2002).

A mandamus action requires the district court to determine, as a threshold matter, whether the state has interfered with ownership, possession, or enjoyment of a property right. Grossman Invs. v. State by Humphrey, 571 N.W.2d 47, 50 (Minn. App. 1997), review denied (Minn. Jan. 28, 1998). If the district court finds that interference has occurred, it must then decide whether the taking resulted in a definite and measurable diminution of market value of the property. Alevizos v. Metro. Airports Comm'n, 317 N.W.2d 352, 354 (Minn. 1982). If a compensable taking occurred, the district court may issue a writ directing the state to initiate condemnation proceedings and compensate the property owner. Thompson v. City of Red Wing, 455 N.W.2d 512, 518 (Minn. App. 1990), review denied (Minn. June 26, 1990).

The district court determined that no taking occurred. Cannon Oil challenges this determination, arguing that the project deprived Cannon Oil of its property right of reasonably convenient and suitable access to the abutting roadway. Cannon Oil also asserts that it is entitled to compensation under Minn. Stat. § 160.08, subd. 5. We address each argument in turn.

I. The project did not result in a taking of Cannon Oil's property.

"Owners of property abutting a public roadway have a right to reasonably convenient and suitable access to the roadway." Oliver v. State ex rel. Comm'r of Transp., 760 N.W.2d 912, 916 (Minn. App. 2009) (quotation omitted), review granted (Minn. Apr.

Page 6

29, 2009), and appeal dismissed (Minn. Nov. 16, 2009). This access right is "a property right in the nature of an easement." State by Mondale v. Gannons, Inc., 275 Minn. 14, 24, 145 N.W.2d 321, 329 (1966). Thus, when an abutting property owner's access to a...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT