A complicated legal dispute out of Minnesota this month is reminding Michigan residents of the importance of accurate documentation and proper legal representation when it comes to litigation. That’s because, as this case points out, having the more right evidence to back up your claims can mean everything when it comes to court decisions.

For the couple in this story, problems began for them back in 2007 when the city of Golden Valley began a construction project of a culvert behind the couple’s home. Shortly thereafter, the couple noticed that their home was shifting because of a landslide the project had created. They called in an independent engineer to document the effects the landslide was having on the house. Over the course of 90 site visits, the engineer determined that the “slow earth flow landslide” was causing extensive damage to the house and was later deemed unsafe for the couple to live in.

A court judge agreed with the engineer’s findings when the couple filed a lawsuit against the city in September 2008. But a series of appeals by the city has caused the construction defect case to remain in limbo ever since. This is even despite consistent decisions in favor of the couple. Now a condemnation hearing has been established where a panel of three real estate experts will determine how much the city of Golden Valley must pay the couple for their property. Current estimates on the home’s value vary depending on who is asked and it’s unknown whether the panel will take into consideration the extensive–not to mention expensive–upgrades the couple have done to the home for health and business reasons.

Because of safety concerns, the home currently sits vacant on its lot and is falling into disrepair. Many residents in the neighborhood say that the property has now become an eyesore and are constantly asking city officials if and when something will be done about it. But because of the complexity of the case, the city says it could take several years before the case comes to a resolution.

Source: The Star Tribune, “Legal dispute drags on as Golden Valley home falls into disrepair,” Ben Johnson, June 6, 2013

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