Lawsuits

Kranz v. City of Bloomington
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On August 18, 2022, three residents of Bloomington, Minnesota filed a lawsuit with the Minnesota District Court against the City of Bloomington, based on the City’s failure to place a proposed charter amendment on the November 2022 ballot. The amendment would have allowed Bloomington citizens to vote on whether to repeal Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) on candidates. The City Council has refused to place the measure on the ballot based on its belief that a portion of the amendment was illegal. UMLC argues that the part of the amendment objected to by the City is secondary and severable and that the amendment should have nonetheless been placed on the ballot so citizens could decide the issue of RCV. In a similar case in 2020, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that the City of Bloomington must place a citizen-led amendment on the ballot, which subsequently passed 54 – 46. 

On November 28, the Minnesota Supreme Court held a hearing on the case.

  • Read the full complaint here
Spann, et al. v. Minneapolis City Council and Mayor Jacob Frey

On August 17, 2020, UMLC, 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. UMLC has won this legal fight with a victory in the Minnesota Supreme Court on June 20, 2022. 

Upper Midwest Law Center files lawsuit opposing Minnesota’s adoption of California clean car rules

On behalf of the Minnesota Automobile Dealers Association, UMLC filed a lawsuit on June 8, 2022, opposing the state’s California Car Rules, initiated by the Walz administration’s Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). The result of this mandate forces auto dealers to take major losses because they are stuck with a fleet of new vehicles that Minnesota consumers don’t want.

On August 19, the MPCA filed a motion to dismiss MADA’s petition. The same day, UMLC filed MADA’s principal brief, and on August 26, UMLC responded to the MPCA’s motion to dismiss. On September 2, the MPCA filed its reply supporting its motion to dismiss. The Court heard this matter on November 3.

Gustilo v. Hennepin Healthcare System, Inc.

On February 6, 2022, Upper Midwest Law Center filed a lawsuit in Minnesota Federal District Court on behalf of Dr. Tara Gustilo alleging racial discrimination, retaliation and reprisal by her employer, Hennepin Healthcare System, Inc. (formerly HCMC). Dr. Gustilo is a Filipino-American doctor whose two children are mixed race Black and Filipino. She Chaired the Obstetrics-Gynecology Department at HHS and took numerous steps to create a welcoming atmosphere and a multi-racial team at HHS, but opposed the racist and divisive CRT ideology of some at HHS, the segregated care models it sought to implement and attempts to insert HHS into the political issue of police defunding and reform. HHS removed her as Chair and reduced her salary significantly.

  • Read the full complaint here.
Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State
Mail In Ballot In American Flag Presidential Race Concept

On January 25, 2022, the Upper Midwest Law Center filed a lawsuit challenging an administrative rule enacted by the Minnesota Secretary of State that conflicts with the Minnesota statute requiring absentee ballot board members to match voters’ signatures on the absentee ballot to their ballot applications. The challenged rule limits the situations in which a ballot may be rejected and guts the statutory requirement on absentee ballot signatures. It creates a conflict in the execution of election law. The rule allows for the acceptance of absentee ballots that do not match the signatory requirements set in Minnesota statute. Minnesota Court of Appeals held that the Secretary of State may, by rule, revoke the statutory discretion given to election judges. On August 22, 2022, MVA filed a Petition for Review in the Minnesota Supreme Court, and on August 24, MVA filed a Motion to Expedite the case. The Supreme Court denied the Motion to Expedite and instructed the Secretary of State to respond to the Petition for Review, which the Secretary did. The Court will determine whether to grant review likely this fall. 

Maki v. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis
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On November 11, 2022, Upper Midwest Law Center filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court of Minnesota against the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis on behalf of Officer Rodney Maki, a twenty-four-year law enforcement employee of the Bank. The Bank had instituted a mandatory vaccination policy which Officer Maki objected to based on his religious beliefs. Although the Bank initially exempted Maki from the policy, and Maki, in turn, adhered to all the safety measures required by the Bank, in January 2022, it changed course and fired him.

The lawsuit outlines the Bank’s violations of the law under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibit discrimination on the basis of sincerely held religious beliefs.

Read the full complaint here.

Webster v. Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development

On November 10, 2022, UMLC filed a lawsuit in Minnesota District Court against the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) and Commissioner Steve Grove on behalf of Journalist Tony Webster. The suit alleges Commissioner Grove, acting in his official capacity but using his personal Twitter account, blocked constituents from DEED updates on unemployment, grant making and hiring decisions, soliciting feedback for use in agency decision-making, and providing answers to questions from Minnesotans on unemployment insurance and the condition of Minnesota’s economy, and then refused to provide his “blocked list” in response to Webster’s data request.

This lawsuit is an action to compel compliance and action for damages under the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act, codified in Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 13 (the “MGDPA”), and the Minnesota Official Records Act, Minn. Stat. § 15.17 (“MORA”) which is enforceable through the MGDPA.

Read the full complaint here.

Norgren v. Minnesota Department of Human Services et al
Like I said before I LOVE taking photos during church!

 On February 25, 2022, Upper Midwest Law Center filed suit against the Minnesota Department of Human Services and Commissioner Jodi Harpstead in the Federal District Court of Minnesota on behalf of Joseph Norgren. Norgren’s claims include racial discrimination, religious discrimination and retaliation. In August 2020, Norgren was informed by supervisors that he would be required to complete training on Critical Race Theory and gender identity ideologies. These teachings were opposed by Norgren and contrary to his religious beliefs. When the exemptions Norgren sought from this training were denied, he had no choice but to leave his employment. 

Energy Policy Advocates v. Ellison (Ellison I & II)

Ellison I: On August 14, 2019, UMLC filed 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. Ramsey County Judge issued an order denying our clients’ motion to turn over the documents. On June 1, 2021, the Minnesota Court of Appeals reversed the District Court’s decision. The AG appealed the decision to the Minnesota Supreme Court, which granted review. A decision is expected in summer of 2022. 

Ellison II: On July 8, 2020 UMLC filed another action against Attorney General Ellison seeking to obtain documents related to Bloomberg and the challenged attorneys regarding influence in a lawsuit against the energy industry.

Cajune, et al. v. ISD 194 and Baumann

On September 1, 2022, several plaintiffs re-filed their lawsuit against the Lakeville School District in Minnesota Federal District Court over its policy to allow the display of ‘Black Lives Matter’ posters, but deny the display of others including ‘All Lives Matter’ and ‘Blue Lives Matter.’ The plaintiffs claim the refusal is a violation of their First Amendment right to be free of viewpoint discrimination and civil rights. A similar case was filed in August 2021 which was dismissed based on lack of standing when one of the original plaintiffs left the school district.

  • Read the full complaint here
Northland Baptist Church v. Governor Tim Walz, et al. (COVID-19 Orders Case)

On Wednesday, May 6, 2020, UMLC 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. On May 5, 2021, the church plaintiffs, Northland Baptist Church and Living Word Christian Center, recieved a big win when the parties agreed to settle the churches’ claims. In the settlement, Governor Walz relinquished any authority to treat houses of worship in Minnesota worse than other establishments. On June 16, 2022, a three-judge panel of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed our clients’ claims for compensation.

Read the full complaint here.

Read the settlement here.

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 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. On June 18, the District Court granted the union’s motion to dismiss. On August 11, 2022, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Huizenga, Bendtsen, and Powell, as ISD 11 taxpayers, do have the standing to pursue their case on the use of taxpayer funds to subsidize union political activities and remanded the case to the District Court.

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. 

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 the Todd complaint here.
  • Read the Burns, Tomoson, Gooding complainthere.
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). The cost of Xcel Energy’s Plan far outweighs the projected result of averting only 0.00039 degrees in temperature increase by 2100.

  • Read the public filing here
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 note that only the state legislature has the power to make laws, and assert that Walz has exceeded his authority. The Ramsey County District Court dismissed the lawsuit, and UMLC appealed that decision to the Minnesota Court of Appeals in May 2021. The Court of Appeals issued an opinion in December 2021 declining to decide Snell on the merits reasoning that the governor had ended the mask mandate. On February 23, 2022, the Minnesota Supreme Court granted Upper Midwest Law Center’s petition for review.

  • Read the lawsuit here.
  • Read the full brief to the Court of Appeals 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.
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.