Civil Practice Clinic Files Class Action Suit Against City and County
NOVEMBER 24, 2010—The University of Minnesota Law School's Civil Practice Clinic has filed a lawsuit in Hennepin County District Court on behalf of property homeowners in parts of Minneapolis who appear to be victims of significantly inflated assessments.
Clinic Supervising Attorney Laura M. Thomas and students John E. Braun ('11) and Michael D. Gavigan ('11) have been working for weeks, comparing the sale prices of publicly listed homes (approximately 10,000) to the value set by city assessors in the following assessment year.
Their sales ratio study shows that property in certain communities is assessed much closer to parity with the selling price than property in the communities of Camden, Near North, and Phillips (as those areas are defined by the city). These communities were hard-hit by foreclosures and resales during the nation's mortgage crisis.
The lawsuit seeks class action status and claims federal and state constitutional violations and statutory violations. The suit seeks reassessments for 2008 and 2009, a correction of the values assigned to properties for assessment year 2010 (pay 2011), and tax credits on behalf of homeowners who paid the tax and are still in possession of the property. No specific amount has been defined.
Thomas and Gavigan, along with David Wilson of Wilson Law Group, met with city attorneys on Nov. 12, 2010, the day the suit was served. Beyond press statements made by the city attorney, Susan Segal, the attorneys have not received a response from the city.
Students in the Law School's Civil Practice Clinic handle about 150 civil cases on behalf of low-income clients each year.