Lpf North Loop Investors LLP v. County of Hennepin, 27-CV-19-6987

CourtTax Court of Minnesota
PartiesLPF North Loop Investors LLP, Petitioner, v. County of Hennepin, Respondent. BAEV - LaSalle Minneapolis Hennepin Avenue LLC, Petitioner, v. County of Hennepin, Respondent. CWI Minneapolis Hotel LLC, Petitioner, v. County of Hennepin, Respondent.
Decision Date19 May 2021
Docket Number27-CV-19-6987,27-CV-19-6986,27-CV-19-7134

LPF North Loop Investors LLP, Petitioner,
v.

County of Hennepin, Respondent.

BAEV - LaSalle Minneapolis Hennepin Avenue LLC, Petitioner,
v.

County of Hennepin, Respondent.

CWI Minneapolis Hotel LLC, Petitioner,
v.

County of Hennepin, Respondent.

Nos. 27-CV-19-6987, 27-CV-19-6986, 27-CV-19-7134

Tax Court of Minnesota, Regular Division, Hennepin County

May 19, 2021


ORDER DENYING COUNTY'S MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION

These matters came before the Honorable Bradford S. Delapena, Judge of the Minnesota Tax Court, on the County's motion for reconsideration of an order compelling discovery and granting Petitioners' requests for protective orders. We deny the County's motion.

Gregory N. Arenson, Andrew D. Parker, and Justin S. Boschwitz, Parker Daniels Kibort LLC, represent Petitioners LPF North Loop Investors LLP, BAEV - LaSalle Minneapolis Hennepin Avenue LLC, and CWI Minneapolis Hotel LLC.

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

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

ORDER

The County's motion for reconsideration is denied.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

MEMORANDUM

I. Background

These cases involve the market value of two downtown Minneapolis properties and one North Loop Minneapolis property as of January 2, 2018 (for Pay-2019 taxes). The County served each Petitioner with written discovery. See LPF N. Loop Invs. LLP v. Cnty. of Hennepin, No. 27-CV-19-6987 et al., 2020 WL 6604877, at *2 (Minn. T.C. Nov. 12, 2020). Petitioners indicated they possessed responsive materials but were unwilling to produce them without a protective order. Id. Citing past County practice, Petitioners proposed a sample order limiting the use of allegedly sensitive information-including information qualifying as Assessor's Data under Minn. Stat. § 13.51, subd. 2 (2020)-to the particular matter in which it was produced as discovery. Id. at *2-3. Despite having previously done so, however, the County refused to stipulate to the proposed this-case-only protection. Id. at *2-3, *6.

A. Original Cross Motions And Resulting Orders

Owing to this impasse, the County filed motions to compel, to which each Petitioner responded, in part, by filing a motion for protective order. LPF, 2020 WL 6604877, at *3. We consolidated the cases solely for purposes of resolving these discovery disputes. Id.

The parties' submissions echoed their negotiating positions: Petitioners sought this-case-only protection for sensitive information (including information qualifying as Assessor's Data), to which the County objected, asserting that such protection was both unwarranted and legally improper. Id. at *5. The County argued, in relevant part:

• that Petitioners' proposal "prohibits the County from using information in this case in ways that are authorized by the Minnesota Statutes including Minn. Stat §§ 273.061, 273.12, and 278.05";[1]
• that "because the data is highly relevant to the assessment and appraisal of real property, the Court should grant no more protection to the data than what is available to nonpublic data under the Minnesota Data Practices Act";[2] and
• that Petitioners' proposal "is overly broad because it governs the County's use of information rather than merely its disclosure." [3]

After considering the parties' submissions, we filed an order: (1) granting in part and denying in part the County's motions to compel; and (2) granting Petitioners' motions for protective orders. LPF, 2020 WL 6604877, at *1-2. We afforded Petitioners 14 days to produce specified information subject to newly minted protective orders that "established a regime according to which each Petitioner may designate documents disclosed during discovery as 'proprietary' for discovery purposes, and the County may judicially challenge such designations." Id. at *1, *8. We resolved as follows the scope-of-protection issue underlying the parties' discovery disputes: "Use of proprietary information [furnished to the County] will be limited to each individual case. Thus, although assessors may have access to proprietary information in their capacity as expert appraisers for the City of Minneapolis or the County, they may not use that same information in their capacity as assessors." Id. at *8.

B. County's Motion For Reconsideration

Having secured the protection they sought for their sensitive information, Petitioners timely produced it to the County.[4] Only then-after having obtained from Petitioners the contested information-the County sent the court correspondence pursuant to Minn. Gen. R. Prac. 115.11 requesting leave to file a motion for reconsideration of the protective orders seeking more relaxed restrictions on the County's use of the contested information (which it now possessed).[5] Petitioners did not submit a written response to the County's request, which we granted.[6]

On January 22, 2021, the County filed a memorandum urging reconsideration, [7] along with the affidavits of (a) Mr. Brett Hall, a principal commercial appraiser for Hennepin County, [8] and (b) Mr. Brian Kieser, the chief commercial appraiser for Minneapolis.[9] These affidavits explain that Hennepin County and Minneapolis assessors use information obtained through discovery in individual tax court cases for non-litigation purposes-for purposes beyond supporting the County's position in the particular case in which the information was produced.[10]On February 5, 2021, Petitioners filed a memorandum opposing the County's requested relief.[11]

II. Governing Law

The Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure "govern the procedures in the Tax Court, where practicable." Minn. Stat. § 271.06, subd. 7 (2020). Although there is no statutory directive that tax court proceedings are also governed by the Minnesota General Rules of Practice, this court has long approved use of the procedure set forth in General Rule 115.11 for requesting leave to move for reconsideration. See Minn. Timberwolves Ltd. P'ship v. Cnty. of Hennepin, No. TC-26856, 1999 WL 236563, at *1 (Minn. T.C. Apr. 13, 1999).

General Rule 115.11 provides, in part: "Motions to reconsider are prohibited except by express permission of the court, which will be granted only upon a showing of compelling circumstances. Requests to make such a motion … shall be made only by letter to the court …." Minn. Gen. R. Prac. 115.11. "If the motion is allowed, the parties can then submit a full motion with an appropriate memorandum and any required affidavits." 3A David F. Herr, Minnesota Practice-General Rules Of Practice Annotated Rule 115 (2020 ed.), Westlaw (database updated June 2020).

Although reconsideration motions "occasionally serve a helpful purpose," they "play a very limited role in civil practice, and should be approached cautiously and used sparingly." Minn. Gen. R. Prac. 115 advisory comm. cmt.-1997 amendment. Such motions "are considered only at the [trial] court's discretion," In re Welfare of S.M.E., 725 N.W.2d 740, 743 (Minn. 2007), and are intended for limited circumstances, such as "where intervening legal developments have occurred (e.g., enactment of an applicable statute or issuance of a dispositive court decision) or where the earlier decision is palpably wrong in some respect," Minn. Gen. R. Prac. 115 advisory comm. cmt.-1997 amendment. Accordingly, they "are not opportunities for presentation of facts or arguments available when the prior motion was considered." Minn. Gen. R. Prac. 115 advisory comm. cmt.-1997 amendment; Am. Bank of St. Paul v. Coating Specialties, Inc., 787 N.W.2d 202, 206 (Minn.App. 2010) (citing Minn. Gen. R. Prac. 115 advisory comm. cmt.-1997 amendment). Indeed, as a distinguished commentator has observed:

The motion that is doomed to failure is a motion for reconsideration that seeks only to reargue what was argued before or to express disagreement with the court's conclusions in the initial order. "We think you got it wrong" is not a very helpful message to the trial judge

Herr, Minnesota Practice, Rule 115.

III. Analysis

We deny the County's motion for reconsideration based on both equitable and substantive considerations.

A. Unfair Delay In Requesting Leave To Seek Reconsideration

We decline to exercise our discretion to reconsider here because the County sought leave to request reconsideration only after having secured a change in the status quo unfavorable to Petitioners.

Petitioners initially declined to disclose sensitive information to the County until they had secured (what they considered) acceptable protective orders. LPF, 2020 WL 6604877, at *2-3. After negotiations with the County failed, Petitioners moved the court for such orders. Id. On November 12, 2020, the...

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