Wegner v. Milwaukee Mut. Ins. Co.,

479 N.W.2d 38 (Minn. 1991)



Where an innocent third party's property is damaged by the police in the course of apprehending a suspect, that property is damaged within the meaning of the constitution.


The city police department severely damage the homeowner's house while attempting to apprehend an armed suspect. The city police flushed out a criminal suspect hiding in the house. Thus, the homeowner sought compensation from the city on trespass and constitutional taking theories. The trial court granted summary judgment to the city. On appeal, the court of appeals affirmed the trial court's grant of summary judgment to the city on the ground that the taking was noncompensable under the doctrine of public necessity. 


Was the taking noncompensable?




The court found that the circumstance and action required compensation when property had been damaged for a public use. The court held that the damage inflicted by the police was for a public use and that the homeowner's property was damaged under the Minnesota Constitution. The court found that the imposition of the entire risk of loss to the innocent homeowner was not for the good of the public, and that allowing the city to avoid paying compensation under the public necessity doctrine would effectively have negated the Minnesota Constitution.

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