Anthony Ostlund shareholders Rich Ostlund and Brooke Anthony successfully defended their client, Ridgebrook Investments Limited Partnership, in a recent tenant dispute over the application of a Minnesota statute.
Ridgebrook owns an apartment complex in Brooklyn Park and contracts with American Utility Management, Inc. (AUM) to provide utility billing services. Two tenants from apartment complexes managed by AUM filed a class-action complaint, alleging that AUM as well as the apartment complex owners and managers illegally charged them fees related to their utilities, or in the alternative, that Minnesota law requires that fees for utilities be subjectively equitable and reasonable in comparison to the cost of services rendered.
The Minnesota district court dismissed the plaintiffs’ claims in part and the case went up on appeal. On appeal, the Minnesota Court of Appeals found in favor of Ridgebrook and the other defendants, holding that Minnesota law “does not prohibit a landlord from billing tenants for fees charged in connection with tenants’ utility bills and does not impose a requirement that those fees be equitable in comparison to the costs of the utility services apportioned among tenants.”
Anthony Ostlund shareholder Brooke Anthony was pleased with the result. As she told Minnesota Lawyer, which published a story on the Appellate Decision: “Ridgebrook is a small, longtime family-owned business that reasonably relied on an experienced independent management company [American Utility Management, Inc.] to handle its tenant relationships, including billing for expenses like utilities. The appellate court’s decision is not exceptional or surprising. It stands for the simple value that it is unfair to sue someone for something they really had no fair reason to believe is anything other than consistent with Minnesota Law.” Read the Minnesota Lawyer article on the case.
Persigehl v. Ridgebrook Invs. Ltd. P’ship, Nos. A14-0027, A14-0123 (Minn. Ct. App. Feb. 2, 2015).