Yarmon v. Minn. Dep't of Transp., A16-0486

CourtCourt of Appeals of Minnesota
PartiesLoren K. Yarmon, et al., Appellants, v. Minnesota Department of Transportation, Respondent.
Docket NumberA16-0486
Decision Date17 October 2016

Loren K. Yarmon, et al., Appellants,
Minnesota Department of Transportation, Respondent.



October 17, 2016

This opinion will be unpublished and may not be cited except as provided by Minn.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

Kirk, Judge

Benton County District Court
File No. 05-CV-15-120

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

Lori Swanson, Attorney General, Stephen D. Melchionne, Assistant Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota (for respondent)

Considered and decided by Larkin, Presiding Judge; Cleary, Chief Judge; and Kirk, Judge.


KIRK, Judge

In this inverse-condemnation action, appellants challenge the district court's grant of summary judgment to respondent, arguing that the court erred in refusing to compel respondent to compensate them for its unconstitutional taking of their right-of-way to a

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state highway. Because the district court did not err in concluding that a taking had not occurred, we affirm.


Appellants Loren K. Yarmon and Jane M. Yarmon are owners and lessors of property abutting the right-of-way to U.S. Highway 10. The property, which is located on CSAH 21, a frontage road to Highway 10, is improved with a gas station/convenience store and two fast-food restaurants. Prior to 2014, the property could be accessed from Highway 10 by an at-grade signalized intersection located at Highway 10 and County Road 2. The distance to the property from the intersection was approximately 600 feet. Northbound drivers wishing to access the property would turn east at the intersection onto County Road 2 and then turn north onto CSAH 21. Southbound drivers would turn east at the intersection onto County Road 2, and proceed north onto CSAH 21.

In 2014, respondent Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) reconstructed the intersection at Highway 10 and County Road 2 by installing a grade-separated interchange along the highway and constructing a highway bridge overpass crossing County Road 2. After the construction, the property is accessible by entrance and exit ramps in both directions along Highway 10. Northbound drivers on Highway 10 must travel an additional 2,600 feet along an exit ramp to access the property. Similarly, southbound drivers travel an additional 3,600 feet along an exit ramp to reach the property. Access to the property from County Road 2 to CSAH 21 remained unchanged by the construction.

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The Yarmons filed a petition for an alternative writ of mandamus seeking to compel the state to commence condemnation proceedings, contending that the changes in access constituted an unconstitutional taking. In the petition, they argued that, as abutting property owners, they had a compensable property right to direct access to the highway, they were automatically entitled to compensation under Minn. Stat. § 160.08, subd. 5 (2014), for loss of existing access rights, and the property no longer had reasonably convenient and suitable access to the highway. In response, MnDOT requested that the district court dismiss the Yarmons' petition on its merits and award MnDOT costs and disbursements. The parties cross-filed for summary judgment.

Following a hearing, the district court granted summary judgment to MnDOT and denied the Yarmons' motion. This appeal follows.


Summary judgment is appropriate when the record shows "that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that either party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Minn. R. Civ. P. 56.03. This court reviews the district court's grant of summary judgment de novo to determine whether there are genuine issues of material fact and whether the district court erred in applying the law. Mattson Ridge, LLC v. Clear Rock Title, LLP, 824 N.W.2d 622, 627 (Minn. 2012). "We view the evidence in the light most favorable to the party against whom summary judgment was granted." STAR Ctrs., Inc. v. Faegre & Benson, L.L.P., 644 N.W.2d 72, 76-77 (Minn. 2002). Where the material facts are undisputed, the district court must decide as a matter of law whether an uncompensated

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taking has occurred. Thomsen v. State by Head, 284 Minn. 468, 475, 170 N.W.2d 575, 580-81 (1969).

I. The Yarmons do not have a property right to direct and immediate access to Highway 10.

A property owner has a compensable property right of access to an abutting public road. C and R Stacy, LLC v. Cty. of Chisago, 742 N.W.2d 447, 457 (Minn. App. 2007). "It is well settled under Minnesota law that property owners have a right of 'reasonably convenient and suitable access' to a public street or highway which abuts their property." Johnson v. City of Plymouth, 263 N.W.2d 603, 605 (Minn. 1978) (citing Hendrickson v. State, 267 Minn. 436, 446, 127 N.W.2d 165, 173 (1964)). "This right is in the nature of a property right." Id. at 605-06. The issue of whether there has been a taking of reasonably convenient and suitable access is a mixed question of fact and law. Grossman Investments v. State by Humphrey, 571 N.W.2d 47, 50 (Minn. App. 1998), review denied (Minn. Jan. 28, 1998). Whether reasonably convenient and suitable access remains is "a question of fact to be determined in light of the circumstances peculiar to each case." Johnson, 263 N.W.2d at 607. But whether a change in access constitutes a taking is determined as a matter of law. Oliver v. State ex rel. Comm'r of Transp., 760 N.W.2d 912, 916 (Minn. App. 2009).

As abutting property owners, the Yarmons argue that they have a property right to direct and immediate access to the highway that is separate and distinct from the right to reasonably convenient and suitable access. They rely on Hendrickson and succeeding cases applying Hendrickson to argue that appellate courts have found a taking when a

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property owner's direct and immediate access to the highway becomes indirect due to road reconstruction. 267 Minn. at 436, 127 N.W.2d at 165. The district court rejected the Yarmons' claim,...

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