IRC Champlin Marketplace, L.L.C. v. County of Hennepin, 27-CV-19-6858

CourtTax Court of Minnesota
Writing for the CourtWendy S. Tien, Chief Judge
PartiesIRC Champlin Marketplace, L.L.C., Petitioner, v. County of Hennepin, Respondent.
Decision Date08 June 2021
Docket Number27-CV-19-6858

IRC Champlin Marketplace, L.L.C., Petitioner,
v.

County of Hennepin, Respondent.

No. 27-CV-19-6858

Tax Court of Minnesota, Regular Division, Hennepin County

June 8, 2021


This matter came before the Honorable Wendy S. Tien, Chief Judge of the Minnesota Tax Court, for hearing on petitioner's motion to amend the scheduling order.

Thomas R. Wilhelmy, Gauri S. Samant, and Christopher A. Stafford, Fredrikson & Byron, P.A., represent petitioner IRC Champlin Marketplace, L.L.C..

Sara L. Bruggeman, Assistant County Attorney, represents respondent Hennepin County.

Based upon all the files, records, and proceedings, the Court now makes the following:

ORDER

Wendy S. Tien, Chief Judge

1. Petitioner's motion to amend the scheduling order is granted.

2. Champlin must serve (but not file) written appraisals, and the reports of any other retained experts or witnesses whose duties as an employee of the party regularly involve giving expert testimony, in final form no later than 5:00 pm June 15, 2021. Champlin may not provide the expert report or workfile it received from the County on April 12, 2021, to its retained expert until after June 15, 2021.

3. At its election, the County may serve (but not file) an amendment to its previously served written appraisals, and the reports of any other retained experts or witnesses whose duties as an employee of the party regularly involve giving expert testimony, in final form no later than 5:00 pm June 15, 2021.

4. An Amended Scheduling Order will be separately filed concerning subsequent deadlines.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

MEMORANDUM

I. BACKGROUND

On April 25, 2019, IRC Champlin Marketplace, L.L.C. ("Champlin"), filed a petition disputing the market value of its subject property as of January 2, 2018.[1] On May 11, 2020, this court filed a Scheduling Order governing this matter.[2] Among other things, the Scheduling Order required each party to "notify all other parties (but not the court) in writing of the identity of the appraiser/expert [] retained" and "the date on which the appraiser/expert was retained" within ten days of retaining the appraiser or expert and, in any event, no later than 45 days before the close of discovery.[3] The Scheduling Order specifies that failure to comply with the notice requirement may result in exclusion of the appraisal or expert report and the appraiser's or expert's testimony at trial.[4] It also specified an appraisal exchange date of April 12, 2021.[5]

On April 12, 2021, Champlin informed the County, late in the day, [6] that it had not received its appraisal from its expert and was unable to exchange its appraisal and workfile "due to unforeseen urgent health and medical circumstances affecting the primary draftsman of the appraisal report." [7] This disclosure occurred after several apparent attempts by Champlin's counsel to obtain information about the status of the appraisal.[8] Specifically, Champlin's counsel avers that around 9 am on April 12, a supervisor at Newmark Knight Frank Valuation & Advisory Services ("Newmark"), the appraisal firm Champlin retained to perform its appraisal of the subject property, notified counsel that it was having problems reaching the primary draftsman of the appraisal despite having communicated with that individual several hours earlier in the morning.[9]At that time, Newmark also indicated the existence of unspecified health problems that may have played a part in its problems reaching the appraiser.[10] Champlin's counsel avers it made several attempts to reach Newmark regarding the status of the appraisal throughout the day, but did not receive a response until after 4 pm.[11] During that time, Champlin corresponded with counsel for the County regarding other pretrial filings, including emails discussing the method of exchanging appraisals.[12] The County timely provided its appraisal to Champlin on April 12.[13]

Champlin's counsel avers that at 6 pm on April 12, Newmark continued to represent it intended to provide a final appraisal report and workfile within the next hour or so.[14] At about 8 pm, however, the Newmark supervisor informed Champlin's counsel that Newmark was unable to provide the appraisal and a letter explaining the reasons was forthcoming.[15] Champlin's counsel notified the County around 8:30 pm that its expert had experienced some unexpected medical issues and counsel had not received the appraisal and workfile: "[W]e will not be exchanging our expert's appraisal report and work file with you today as planned. We will follow up with you when we receive further confirmation concerning our expert's health and condition." [16]

Champlin did not communicate further with the County concerning the status of its appraisal exchange until May 17, 2021, [17] when it filed and served its motion to amend the scheduling order.[18] The motion is supported by a letter from Newmark, and signed by its Human Resources Manager, detailing the medical issues originally described more obliquely on April 12, 2021.[19] Although the County initially did not specifically object to the amendment of the scheduling order in its response, [20] at a hearing held on June 7, 2021, the County opposed amendment.

II. GOVERNING LAW

Minnesota Statutes, section 271.06, subdivision 7 (2020), provides that, in general, the Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure (the "Rules") govern the procedures in the tax court, where practicable. Rule 16.02 authorizes the court to enter a scheduling order setting deadlines for, among other things, the completion of discovery and "any other matters appropriate in the circumstances of the case." Minn. R. Civ. P. 16.02(c) & (g). Such an order "controls the subsequent course of the action, unless modified ... to prevent manifest injustice." Cotroneo v. Pilney, 343 N.W.2d 645, 648 (Minn. 1984) (emphasis omitted) (quoting Minn. R. Civ. P. 16). See also Rule 16.05 "After any conference held pursuant to this rule, an order shall be entered reciting the action taken. This order shall control the subsequent course of the action and shall be modified only to prevent manifest injustice." .[21]

A scheduling order "shall not be modified except by leave of court upon a showing of good cause." Minn. R. Civ. P....

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