City prevails in costly development fight
- Blog Post by: Steve Brandt
- April 4, 2012 - 11:09 AM
A legal marathon involving two of the more feisty personalities in Minneapolis has left Lisa Goodman the victor.
Attorneys for the City Council member won dismissal of the remaining portion of a lawsuit filed against Goodman by developer Brad Hoyt and his development companies.
U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson ruled for Goodman in a case prompted by her role in the city’s denial of approvals Hoyt sought for a Loring Park neighborhood high rise. Nelson agreed with arguments by attorneys Charles Nauen and Gregory Myers that Hoyt’s lawsuit was re-litigating issues already settled by state courts.
But Nelson denied Goodman’s bid to recover court and attorney fees from Hoyt. That means the city and its taxpayers will foot the bill, Goodman said, blaming Hoyt for wasting public money on an ultimately fruitless quest. Hoyt has not responded to a request for comment.
“We were completely vindicated on all the counts,” Goodman said. The city attorney's office reports that it has spent almost $875,000 to date on outside attorney fees to fend off the even more costly damages Hoyt was seeking.in his dual suits.
Hoyt originally sued the city in 2007 in state court over its denial of approvals for his 2004 proposal to build a 21-story condo tower on Loring Hill. That’s the first of three proposals he’s made for the 401 Oak Grove St. property. He alleged that Goodman worked to prejudice the council against that proposal, depriving him of due process.
A trial judge agreed, but denied Hoyt’s other claims and his bid to recover more than $11 million in lost profits he claimed. Hoyt was awarded $523,000 in legal costs from the city, but lost that when he appealed other issues. His only appeals court win was a directive to the council that it rehear the original proposal because of the bias issue.
The council rejected that proposal after holding that hearing, but did approve Hoyt’s third proposal for the site, for a seven-story, 84-unit housing proposal. Construction has begun.
Meanwhile, Hoyt had sued Goodman individually, as well as two neighbors whom he accused of conspiring with her to deprive him of his rights to develop the property. Nelson earlier dismissed the neighbors and the conspiracy charge, and junked Hoyt’s remaining claims in her ruling dated Monday.
Goodman said that as a council member she was entitled to city legal representation because she was acting in her official capacity on Hoyt’s proposals. City attorneys muzzled Goodman from participation in any further participation in decisions on Hoyt’s proposals after he sued her.
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