Lawsuits

Cajune, et al. v. ISD 194 and Baumann

On August 6, 2021, the Upper Midwest Law Center filed a federal lawsuit against the Lakeville Area School District, ISD 194, challenging the posting of Black Lives Matter posters on school property while refusing to post divergent views on race and social justice, such as All Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter posters.

Lakeville claimed that the “Black Lives Matter” posters on school property were created based on input from some members of the Lakeville community. These posters include the message: “At Lakeville Area Schools we believe Black Lives Matter and stand with the social justice movement this statement represents. This poster is aligned to School Board policy and an unwavering commitment to our Black students, staff and community members.” …[Read More]

When UMLC client Bob Cajune asked that All Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter posters be posted as well, Lakeville refused, claiming somehow that posters with those messages “were created specifically in opposition to Black Lives Matter” and that those messages “effectively discount the struggle the Black students have faced in our school buildings and that Black individuals face in our society as a whole”.

Not only is Lakeville’s position false, but Lakeville is promoting the political views of some of its community and refusing to allow alternative messages-a classic violation of the First Amendment’s prohibition on viewpoint discrimination in public fora.

Upper Midwest Law Center Representing Victims of Critical Race Theory Bullying and Retaliation
On July 26, 2021, UMLC announced that it is representing two employees of Minnesota public employers in discrimination charges because of wrongful action taken against them because of race and their political views. Tara Gustilo, a Filipino-American doctor at Hennepin Healthcare System (formerly known as HCMC) and Joe and Aaron Norgren, Native-American father and mixed-race son employees at DHS, are challenging this abhorrent, racially-divisive ideology, grounded in Marxism and anti-Americanism, which is literally pushing aside the medical care, teaching and public service missions at these organizations to convert them to this warped version of “social justice.”…[Read More]

UMLC is prosecuting their charges before the Equal Employment and Opportunity Commission, and will proceed to federal court to assure they are given the justice they deserve.
Spann, et al. v. Minneapolis City Council and Mayor Jacob Frey
On August 17, 2020, Upper Midwest Law Center, on behalf of eight residents and community leaders, filed suit against the Minneapolis City Council and Mayor Frey in Hennepin County District Court alleging they have failed to uphold their legal duties to fund and employ an adequate police force as required under the Minneapolis City Charter.

VICTORY: In a landmark victory for the Petitioners and the Upper Midwest Law Center, on July 1, 2021, the Hennepin County District Court issued a Writ of Mandamus which orders the Minneapolis City Council and Mayor Jacob Frey to “immediately take any and all necessary action to ensure that they fund a police force” of at least 730 sworn officers, or more if required by the 2020 Census to be published later this year, by June 30, 2022.…[Read More]

The City had projected that the Minneapolis Police Department would only have 669 sworn officers as of June 1, 2022, so the order requires the City to take strong, immediate measures to increase its hiring substantially above what it had planned for 2021 and 2022.

The UMLC is confident that this victory will help restore peace and order for the Petitioners, eight Black and White residents of Minneapolis’ Jordan and Hawthorne neighborhoods on its embattled North Side, and all Minneapolitans. You can view the Order here.

On July 23, 2021, the City of Minneapolis asked the Minnesota Supreme Court for accelerated review of the District Court decision, arguing that the Judge failed to properly interpret the law.

UPDATE: On August 10, the Minnesota Supreme Court denied the Minneapolis City Council and Mayor Frey’s petition for accelerated review. That means the case will proceed as usual to the Court of Appeals, if the City continues its appeal. In the meantime, the 2020 Census will be out in September, and the City needs to take action now to hire the number of officers the Charter and Judge Anderson’s order require based on the 2020 Census. The order is attached.
Energy Policy Advocates v. Ellison (Ellison I & II)
Ellison I: On August 14, 2019, UMLC filed, with the law firm Government Accountability & Oversight, P.C., a data practices lawsuit on behalf of Energy Policy Advocates against Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison for opening his office to attorneys hired, paid for and directed by Democrat activist, Michael Bloomberg, as climate change warriors. UMLC seeks public documents requested under the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act, and withheld by Ellison, to demonstrate this improper practice and seek to have it invalidated. Ramsey County Judge Thomas Gilligan issued an order on July 16 denying our clients’ motion to turn over the documents, and UMLC has appealed to the Minnesota Court of Appeals.…[Read More]

VICTORY: On June 1, 2021, the Minnesota Court of Appeals reversed the District Court’s decision and handed a big victory to Energy Policy Advocates and the Upper Midwest Law Center. The Court of Appeals issued a precedential decision that rejected Attorney General Keith Ellison’s attempt to shield virtually all attorney general data from the public. The opinion requires Ellison to support his attempts to withhold data with real descriptions and evidence, and not broad and general claims of privilege. In addition, the Court of Appeals rejected Ellison’s reliance on broad and vague document descriptions to shield from discovery documents related to discussions with other attorneys general around the country regarding climate change lawsuits and other matters. To read the decision, click here.

Ellison II: On July 8, 2020 UMLC filed another action on behalf of Energy Policy Advocates against Attorney General Ellison seeking to obtain documents related to Bloomberg and the challenged attorneys regarding influence in a lawsuit against the energy industry.
Northland Baptist Church of St. Paul Minnesota, et al. v. Governor Tim Walz, et al. (COVID-19 Orders Case)
VICTORY for Minnesota Churches On Wednesday, May 6, 2020, the Upper Midwest Law Center sued Governor Walz and Attorney General Ellison on behalf of churches and Minnesota business owners who argued that Governor Walz’ COVID-19 shutdown orders were unconstitutional. Almost exactly one year later, on May 5, 2021, the church plaintiffs, Northland Baptist Church and Living Word Christian Center, got a big win when the parties agreed to settle the churches’ claims.…[Read More]

In the settlement, Governor Walz relinquished any authority to treat houses of worship in Minnesota worse than grocery and retail outlets or sports and entertainment venues, which was the case in the first set of COVID-19 orders that shut down Minnesota’s churches—but not Governor Walz’ favored few businesses. Now, if the Governor attempts to “dial back” and reimpose stricter COVID-19 restraints, houses of worship must receive as good or better treatment as Target or the Minnesota Twins.

This victory was made possible when Federal Judge Wilhelmina M. Wright held in an order on March 30 that the State’s COVID orders related to houses of worship were subject to the strictest scrutiny by the Court.

The settlement also preserves the right of appeal by the business plaintiffs in this case, which believe the state’s discrimination against them in favor of big businesses was unconstitutional and an illegal “taking” of their businesses. Judge Wright dismissed their claims, but the settlement provides for appeal of the denial of those equal protection and takings claims to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, which the UMLC believes will reinstate those claims, too. Click here to view the original complaint and here to view the settlement agreement.
Huizenga et al. v. ISD 11 and Anoka-Hennepin Education Minnesota
On December 2, 2020, three residents of the Anoka-Hennepin School District sued Anoka-Hennepin Education Minnesota (American Federation of Teachers Local 7007) and the District, seeking to stop teacher union business leave subsidies for union political activities. The lawsuit brought by Upper Midwest Law Center in Minnesota Federal District Court alleges that the Working Agreement between the District and the Union violates the First Amendment, the Minnesota Constitution, and Minnesota’s Public Labor Relations Act. That Agreement requires that the District allow its teachers 100 days of paid leave per school year to work for the Union, and does not fully reimburse the District for teacher pay, thus providing the Union with illegal support.…[Read More]

The union filed a motion to dismiss, and the UMLC and its clients filed a motion for an injunction to stop the ongoing illegal use of local taxpayer dollars. On June 18, the District Court granted the union’s motion to dismiss, and UMLC immediately appealed the decision to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. UMLC expects its appeal to be heard later this year.
O’Neill v. Schowalter
Upper Midwest Law Center filed suit December 30, 2020 on behalf of Minnesota lawmakers, Marion O’Neill and Mark Koran, against Commissioner of Minnesota Management and Budget, Jim Schowalter, and MMB for unlawful implementation of collective bargaining agreements granting State employee pay raises. Under Minnesota law, a majority vote of both the House and Senate must approve the state employee union bargaining agreements for them to be legally implemented. In this case, MMB implemented the agreement even though the Senate failed to approve the bill. Representative O’Neill and Senator Koran seek a writ of quo warranto or declaratory judgment to have the invalid bargaining agreements set aside. …[Read More]
The government filed a motion to dismiss, as usual, and UMLC’s clients filed a motion for an injunction to stop the ongoing implementation. The Ramsey County District Court heard the motions on April 27, and UMLC hopes for a decision by the end of June 2021.

Click here to view the petition.
Todd v. AFSCME Council 5 and Burns v. SEIU Local 284
Upper Midwest Law Center filed two federal lawsuits on March 5, 2021 on behalf of four government employees as they seek to recoup dues taken from them in violation of the Supreme Court’s 2018 Janus decision and stop these unions’ unconstitutional practices. The UMLC represents Marcus Todd, a security counselor for the Minnesota Department of Human Services, and Polly Burns, Rhonda Tomoson, and Diane Gooding, who are food service managers who work with school lunch employees who work to feed students in the Burnsville-Savage-Eagan public schools.…[Read More]

In Todd’s case, AFSCME has gone so far as to use his forged signature to collect dues from him. Todd seeks an injunction against continued deductions and a refund of the dues unlawfully taken from him. Burns, Tomoson, and Gooding have been forced to pay union dues to the SEIU for years, despite never being advised of their First Amendment rights to not join a union and not subsidize political activity with which they disagree. They seek a refund of their dues payments. Click here to view the Todd complaint and related documents, and here to view the Burns, Tomoson, Gooding complaint.
In the Matter of the Clean Cars Minnesota Proposed Rule
On February 22, 2021, Upper Midwest Law Center (UMLC), on behalf of Center of the American Experiment (CAE), submitted initial comments to the Administrative Law Judge opposing the adoption of California’s car dealer mandates that tell dealers what they can and cannot sell to their customers. In addition, UMLC President Doug Seaton appeared at the rulemaking hearing to represent CAE. UMLC argued to the Administrative Law Judge that the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s attempt to turn Minnesota into California is illegal under both federal and state law. Click here to see UMLC’s initial comments.…[Read More]

On March 15, 2021, UMLC, again on behalf of CAE, submitted additional comments that show that the adoption of the mandates is bad for Minnesotans and illegal. UMLC also filed reply comments authored by Isaac Orr and Mitch Rolling on CAE’s behalf on June 24, 2021. Click here to view UMLC’s second set of comments, and here to view CAE’s comments.

On July 26, 2021, Governor Walz signed off on the Clean Cars standards, thus completing his end-run around the Minnesota Legislature in dictating car dealer inventories and raising car prices for Minnesotans. Upper Midwest Law Center is discussing an appeal with interested parties.
In the Matter of Xcel Energy’s 2020-2034 Upper Midwest Integrated Resource Plan
On February 10, Upper Midwest Law Center (UMLC), on behalf of Center of the American Experiment, filed comments with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) objecting to Xcel Energy’s plan to prematurely retire coal plants and replace them with new wind turbines, solar panels and natural gas plants for nominal, purely symbolic climate gains. These proposed changes would cost every ratepayer in Minnesota an additional $1,428 per year, every year, until 2051 ($42,840 in total), according to Isaac Orr and Mitch Rolling who prepared the comments. Orr, a policy fellow specializing in energy and environmental policy at American Experiment, points out that the cost of Xcel Energy’s Plan far outweighs the projected result of averting only 0.00039 degrees in temperature increase by 2100. Click here to view the filing.…[Read More]

The comment period for this plan has been extended due to Xcel’s request for additional time to respond to UMLC/CAE’s and other’ comments. Xcel’s response is due June 25, 2021. UMLC will also represent American Experiment in any applicable appeals or challenges to a decision by the PUC.
Snell, et al. v. Governor Tim Walz, et al.
On August 20, 2020, sixteen Minnesota citizens, business owners and churches filed suit in Ramsey County District Court to invalidate Governor Walz’s Executive Order requiring most Minnesotans to wear masks in indoor public spaces. The Petitioners, represented by Upper Midwest Law Center, note that only the state legislature has the power to make laws, and assert that Walz has exceeded his authority by overriding an existing Minnesota statute that makes it unlawful to wear a mask in public. Petitioners also allege that the mask mandate violates their freedom of speech and religious rights under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Article I, Section 16 of the Minnesota Constitution.…[Read More]

The lawsuit, brought as a quo warranto action, asks the court to order that Walz and co-Respondents Attorney General Ellison and Dakota County Attorney Backstrom show that the mask mandate and its enforcement are consistent with state law or to issue an injunction prohibiting the enforcement. The Ramsey County District Court dismissed the lawsuit, and UMLC appealed that decision to the Minnesota Court of Appeals in May 2021. UMLC filed its principal brief showing why the mask mandate violates the Minnesota Constitution on June 14, 2021, which you can view here.
Scheff Logging & Trucking, Inc. and Associated Contract Loggers & Truckers of Minnesota, Inc. v. Shawn Ray Etsitty and John Does (The Enbridge Pipeline Sabotage Case)
On behalf of these plaintiffs, a logging company and their trade group in northern Minnesota, UMLC brought a lawsuit on January 24, 2020, against individual vandals, including defendant Etsitty and his unknown (so far) co-conspirators, who caused over $100,000 in damages to their equipment at a logging site in St. Louis County. The lawsuit also names John Doe and Corporation/Foundation XYZ defendants as “markers” for those we believe discovery will show provided unlawful support for the individual defendants’ destruction. UMLC looks forward to holding Mr. Etsitty and his co-conspirators liable for the damage they have caused. The message is simple: peaceful protest is always acceptable, but vandalism, violence, interference with people’s lives and livelihoods and destruction of property will not be tolerated, no matter the reason. On January 11, 2021, UMLC obtained a judgment for just over $100,000 against Defendant Etsitty.
Hoekman v. Education Minnesota, et al.

Another post-Janus case representing Minnesota teachers, Hoekman, is well underway in the federal District of Minnesota against the teachers’ union. Our plaintiffs wish to recover dues paid to the union they do not support.

Prokes/Piekarski v. AFSCME Council 5, et al.
In the Prokes/Piekarski v. AFSCME case, UMLC represents state employees represented by AFSCME at Minnesota DOT and elsewhere who seek to recover dues paid for all such employees who oppose the union.
Brown et al. v. AFSCME Council 5 and Fellows et al. v. MAPE
On May 8, 2020, Upper Midwest Law Center, Liberty Justice Center and National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation filed Brown et al. v. AFSCME Council 5 and Fellows et al. v. MAPE, in Minnesota Federal District Court seeking return of $19 million in past dues withheld from public employees by the unions as a mandatory condition of employment. Plaintiffs in the class action lawsuits assert that, based on the 2018 Janus case in which the Supreme Court determined such mandatory dues deductions are a violation of the employees’ First Amendment rights, their past dues were unlawfully withhold and must be refunded.…[Read More]

As expected, the Hoekman, Prokes, Brown and Fellows cases were dismissed by the District Court, and our public employee clients appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. We are hopeful that the Eighth Circuit will reverse these decisions and reinstate our public employee clients’ claims for recovery of unconstitutionally withheld dues payments to government unions. These cases and several others around the country could ultimately be decided by the United States Supreme Court.
Other
UMLC continues to investigate other possible lawsuits involving radical indoctrination of students and public employees, unnecessary school closures harming students, reverse racist employment terminations, government union dues skimming and unlawful taxation. UMLC also welcomes your ideas for future cases.