Buyout disputes lead to lawsuits against City of Minot

Disputes over property buyouts for a flood protection project have led to four recent lawsuits against the City of Minot.

Kenn and Lynette Simensen filed two lawsuits last November after purchase negotiations broke down. One complaint relates to property at 210 7th Street NE, which largely had been leased to FedEx Freight. A second complaint relates to at 706 4th Ave. NE, which they leased to various tenants.

The properties flooded in 2011. The Simensens state they repaired the Seventh Street property and signed a new lease through 2017 with FedEx. In 2014, FedEx pulled out of the lease after learning from the city that the property was to be condemned for a flood protection project. The couple states the city didn’t inform them of the condemnation until 2016. They allege the city’s actions caused a devaluation of the property.

The Simensens also say the city failed to appraise the property in a timely manner, creating a situation where it is now difficult to adequately assess the property.

The Simensens state they rehabilitated the Fourth Avenue property and most tenants returned. By August 2014, certain tenants canceled leases after learning from the city that condemnation would occur. Formal notice of condemnation did not come to the Simensens until December 2016. They allege the city caused the property value to diminish and failed to perform a timely appraisal.

The two complaints allege government liability, interference in business, negligence, violation of due process and inverse condemnation, which is a taking without compensation. The plaintiffs ask for a jury to determine damages.

The city denies the allegations and asks the court for dismissal. It also asks the court to approve condemnation, giving the city ownership or an easement to build flood protection, and to determine the payment to the Simensens for their interest in the properties.

Leanne and Shane Grondahl filed a complaint Dec. 4, stating a proposed buyout, on which they and the city have not been able to reach agreement, has devalued and limited their ability to lease or sell the property at 517 12th Street SW. They seek damages, alleging the city has taken the property without just compensation.

Leanne Grondahl also filed a similar claim on a family estate at 1124 6th Avenue SW.

The city denied the allegations and asked the court to approve condemnation, granting the city ownership or easement to the properties while determining the financial interests of the owners. It seeks a jury trial.

Plaintiffs in each of the cases are represented by Richard Olson and Jessica Merchant of Minot. The city is represented by John Warcup of Grand Forks through the North Dakota Insurance Reserve Fund.