This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).







John A. Woodhall, Jr., et al., petitioners,

Appellants (A05-2424),




State of Minnesota,





State of Minnesota, by its Commissioner of Transportation, petitioner,





Grove City Grain and Feed Company,

Respondent Below, (A05-2425),


Timothy R. Pieh, et al.,

Appellants (A05-2425).


Filed July 25, 2006


Shumaker, Judge


Kandiyohi County District Court

File No. 34-CV-05-112


Raymond R. Waechter, Wallace F. Gustafson, Waechter & Gustafson, 328 Fifth Street S.W., P.O. Box 567, Willmar, MN 56201 (for appellants)


Mike Hatch Attorney General, David M. Jann, Assistant Attorney General, 445 Minnesota Street, Suite 1800, St. Paul, MN 55101-2134 (for respondent State of Minnesota)

            Considered and decided by Shumaker, Presiding Judge; Kalitowski, Judge; and Ross, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


These consolidated appeals arise from eminent-domain proceedings in which the district court dismissed appellants’ appeals from the commissioners’ awards for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction.  Because appellants failed to perfect their appeals, we affirm. 


These are consolidated appeals from the district court’s orders dismissing appellants’ challenges of condemnation awards for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction.

Respondent State of Minnesota acquired through eminent domain various tracts of land owned by appellants for purposes of the expansion of a trunk highway.  In its condemnation petition respecting the property of appellants Timothy Pieh and Mary Pieh, the state named as respondents, in addition to the Piehs and others, the County of Kandiyohi, Wells Fargo Bank, and Burton R. Van Ort and Ella V. Van Ort, they being the Piehs’ contract-for-deed vendors.  In its petition regarding the Woodhalls’ properties, the state named the County of Kandiyohi as one of the several respondents.

The partial report of the condemnation commissioners containing the award of damages for the taking of the Woodhalls’ properties was filed on January 21, 2005.  The commissioners’ report containing the award for the Piehs’ property was filed on February 18, 2005.  The Woodhalls and the Piehs appealed to the district court, challenging their respective awards.  None of the appellants served a copy of the notice of appeal on the County of Kandiyohi within the statutory time limit, and the Piehs omitted service of notice on the Van Orts and Wells Fargo as well.

The state moved to dismiss the district-court appeals on the ground that appellants’ failure to serve notices of appeal on the County of Kandiyohi and, in the Piehs’ case, on the Van Orts and Wells Fargo as well, deprived the district court of subject-matter jurisdiction over the appeals.  The district court ruled that it lacked jurisdiction and granted the state’s motion in separate orders dated October 18, 2005.  These appeals followed.


In eminent-domain proceedings, commissioners are appointed by the district court “to ascertain and report the amount of damages that will be sustained by the [landowners] on account of [the] taking.”  Minn. Stat. § 117.075, subd. 2 (2004).  After the commissioners file their report of the damages to be awarded because of the taking, any party may appeal the award to the district court by following the statutory appeal procedure:

At any time within 40 days from the date that the report has been filed, any party to the proceedings may appeal to the district court from any award of damages embraced in the report, or from any omission to award damages, by: (1) filing with the court administrator a notice of such appeal, and (2) serving by mail a copy of such notice on all respondents and all other parties to the proceedings having an interest in any parcel described in the appeal who are shown in the petitioner’s affidavit of mailing, required by section 117.115, subdivision 2, as having been mailed a notice of the report of the commissioners. 


Minn. Stat. § 117.145 (2004)

A party’s failure to strictly comply with the notice requirements of section 117.145 deprives the district court of subject-matter jurisdiction over the appeal.  County of Hennepin v. Holt, 296 Minn. 164, 168, 207 N.W.2d 723, 726 (1973) (holding the right of appeal from condemnation proceedings is strictly statutory, and unless the statutory provisions are followed, the court obtains no jurisdiction); In re Matter of Condemnation by the Hous. & Redev. Auth. v. Suh, 553 N.W.2d 115, 117 (Minn. App. 1996) (finding that failure of condemnor to give notice of filing commissioner’s report and notice of appeal to parties named in the condemnation petition resulted in lack of jurisdiction) review denied (Minn. Nov. 20, 1996).

Section 117.145 creates two categories of parties who must be notified of the appeal: (1) all respondents and (2) all other parties interested in the condemned land.  The County of Kandiyohi was named as a respondent in the state’s condemnation petitions for the Woodhalls’ and the Piehs’ properties and as a respondent in the respective reports of the commissioners.  Wells Fargo Bank and Burton and Ella Van Ort were also named as respondents in the petition and report relating to the Pieh real estate.

Acknowledging that they did not serve these named respondents with appeal notices within the 40-day limit, the Woodhalls and the Piehs argue that none of the respondents retained an interest in the respective condemned parcels.  They claim that the county had removed those parcels from the tax rolls at least two years before the appeals, and the Piehs contend that Wells Fargo Bank never held a mortgage on the affected real estate and that the Van Orts’ contract for deed was satisfied one day after the appeal period expired.  They urge that an equitable reading of section 117.145 would compel the district court’s retention of jurisdiction when parties who did not receive appeal notices had no interest in the condemned lands anyway.  They allege that it would be unfair to deprive them of their opportunity to appeal merely because of the omission of notices to unaffected parties, and, in support of that position, they rely on a concurring opinion in Hous. & Redev. Auth. v. Adelmann, 590 N.W.2d 327, 333 (Minn. 1999). However, a concurring opinion does not have authoritative effect.

The state contends that all of the omitted parties were respondents and that, even if the county removed the condemned parcels from the tax rolls, there can remain tax-lien issues that the state is required to resolve in the condemnation proceeding.

We need not reach the issue of whether or not the omitted parties had interests in the condemned lands because all fit into the first category of parties who must receive appeal notices, namely, respondents named in the eminent-domain proceeding.  Section 117.145 is clear and unambiguous.  If a statute is clear on its face, courts are not entitled to construe it but rather must enforce the statute as written.  See Lino Lakes Econ. Dev. Auth. v. Reiling, 610 N.W.2d 355, 357-58 (Minn. App. 2000) (“[w]hen a statute is unambiguous, the court must give effect to the statute’s plain meaning” (citing Tuma v. Comm. of Econ. Sec., 386 N.W.2d 702, 706 (Minn. 1986))).  It is not within the authority of the courts to assess the wisdom of legislation.  Because the Woodhalls and the Piehs failed to serve their respective appeal notices on respondents named in the eminent-domain proceedings as required by law, the district court ceased to have jurisdiction over the appeals and did not err by granting the state’s motion to dismiss the appeals.