Gerrard couple loses case against city, county, state

A Stearns County District judge has dismissed the last of the 13 counts that Kevin and Anita Gerrard  filed against the city of Princeton, Mille Lacs County and the Minnesota Department of Transportation, involving a 2010 bridge/intersection project.

The ruling came on December 17. A judge had dismissed the other 12 counts in April 2012, according to attorney Susan Tindal with the law firm Iverson Reuvers that represented the city in the civil case.

The Gerrards reside at 411 Rum River Dr. N., near the site where two years ago the Dunn Memorial Bridge and Highway 95 bridge over the Rum River were replaced and the signal intersection at Rum River Drive and Highway 95 was converted into a roundabout.

The Gerrards had placed signs along their property during the project, alleging that the government was stealing their land through the construction work.

Attorneys for the city, county and state successfully contended that the land the construction workers were on in the vicinity of the Gerrard property was legal because of easements granted by the former owners of the Gerrard property.

The Gerrards lawsuit had claimed that the couple should be granted damages of close to $550,000.

The court dismissed 12 of the 13 counts through summary judgement in April 2012, leaving the land trespass allegation in count five remaining, and that was dismissed on Dec. 17.

In summary, the counts were dismissed as follows:

Count 1 of assault, dismissed “because there was no threat of violence.”

Count 2 of battery, dismissed because the “evidence is not sufficient to prove that Mrs. Gerrard was harmed.”

Count 3 of trespass to land, dismissed “because there is no evidence that the construction project increased water runoff.”

Count 4 of trespass to land, dismissed “because plaintiffs have not shown any damages.”

Count 5 of trespass to land, the court originally granted summary judgment for the Minnesota Department of Transportation and denied summary judgment for the city of Princeton and Mille Lacs County. The court ruled in April that the city had already admitted to removing certain trees at issue and “thus the independent contractors are not involved with the facts underlying count 5.” The court also denied the plaintiffs’ request to amend their complaint. The final dismissal arrived Dec. 17.

Count 6 of trespass to land, dismissed “because the city had permission from the state to place a sign in the right of way.”

Count 7 of trespass to land, dismissed “because there is no evidence of damages from the chemical spray.”

Count 8 of trespass of land, dismissed “because there is no evidence the defendants propelled garbage on plaintiff’s property.”

Count 9 of private nuisance, dismissed “because plaintiffs’ claim for cutting trees is a trespass claim.”

Count 10 of private nuisance, dismissed “because the evidence is not sufficient to prove the allegations.”

Count 11 of inverse condemnation, dismissed “because the evidence is not sufficient to prove the allegations.”

Count 12 of abuse of process, dismissed “because there is no evidence the defendants used the judicial process to accomplish an unlawful goal.”

Count 13 of the plaintiff’s asking the court to enjoin prosecution of a certain criminal case the city had brought against Kevin Gerrard. The city alleged he had failed to cooperate with a peace officer, had obstructed legal process, had committed a right of way use violation, and engaged in illegal dumping.

The case had to do with Gerrard getting a vehicle stuck in the right of way along the north side of Highway 95 while trying to put up a sign, and authorities asking Gerrard to remove the truck as it was impeding work on the bridge/intersection project. Gerrard claimed he wasn’t given sufficient time to remove the stuck truck on his own before he was arrested on the mentioned charges.

The Gerrards had contended in 2010, that the criminal case should not be continued on the basis of the Gerrards alleging the defendants did not have the authority to work in certain areas where the defendants claimed easements.

A jury, on April 17, 2012, resolved the criminal case, finding Gerrard, 49, guilty of failing to comply with a police operation and conducting detrimental operation of a vehicle within a right of way. The court dismissed the count of illegal dumping.

Gerrard was given a 90-day jail sentence of which the court stayed 88 days, pending Gerrard remaining law abiding for a year. He was fined $300 and placed on one year’s probation. He was given credit for serving two days in jail during the summer of 2010.