STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Arbuckle's Bar and Grill, Inc.,
The City of St. Paul, et al.,
Filed July 14, 1998
Ramsey County District Court
File No. C6-96-10378
Peg Birk, City Attorney, Gail Langfield-Sieberlich, Assistant City Attorney, 550 City Hall, Courthouse, 15 W. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55102 (for respondents)
Considered and decided by Klaphake, Presiding Judge, Lansing, Judge, and Norton, Judge.*
Arbuckle's Bar & Grill, Inc. appeals from the district court's order denying its motion for a writ of mandamus. Because respondent City of St. Paul has no present legal duty to accept appellant's application for renewal of a liquor license, we affirm.
Appellant purchased a bar in St. Paul in 1988 and held a liquor license from that time until 1995. During this period, the liquor license was renewed each year, despite some delinquent tax problems and two license suspensions for liquor law violations. In June 1995, the Minnesota Department of Revenue (MDR) revoked appellant's sales tax permit due to delinquent tax obligations and issued a notice of delinquency to the city. Upon revocation of the sales tax permit, the bar closed. Nevertheless, in October 1995, appellant presented a renewal application to the city but failed to include an insurance certificate, license fees, or a tax clearance certificate with the application.
Appellant sued after the city refused to accept its license application, seeking a writ of mandamus to order the city to accept the application and requesting civil damages pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Appellant moved for a temporary injunction, which the district court denied, treating it as a motion for a writ of mandamus. This court refused the ensuing appeal as untimely. Upon remand, the district court issued an amended order permitting this interlocutory appeal under Minn. R. Civ. P. 54.02.
Mandamus is an extraordinary remedy based upon the exercise of judicial discretion and equitable principles. Coyle v. City of Delano, 526 N.W.2d 205, 207 (Minn. App. 1995). A writ of mandamus will issue if the petitioner can establish that (1) the party against whom a writ is directed had a "clear and present official duty to perform a certain act"; (2) if the action to be ordered is a discretionary one, the party charged with performance of the action acted in such an "arbitrary and capricious manner as to constitute a clear abuse of discretion"; and (3) the petitioner has no other adequate remedy at law. McIntosh v. Davis, 441 N.W.2d 115, 118 (Minn. 1989) (citations omitted).
Appellant has failed to demonstrate that the city had a clear and present legal duty to accept the application as tendered. The application was incomplete because it lacked licensing fees, a tax clearance certificate, and an insurance binder. By ordinance, the inspector could not receive the application unless accompanied by all fees, insurance policies, and certificates. St. Paul, Minn., Legislative Code § 310.02(a), (b) (1987). By statute, the city could not "issue, transfer, or renew, and must revoke," the license until presented with a tax clearance certificate. Minn. Stat. § 270.72, subd. 1 (1996). A petitioner for mandamus must demonstrate full compliance with statutory or ordinance provisions that are conditions precedent to assertion of the right demanded before claiming that the other party had a clear and present legal duty to act. See Minneapolis-Honeywell Regulator Co. v. Nadasdy, 247 Minn. 159, 163, 76 N.W.2d 670, 674 (1956); Yoselowitz v. Peoples Bakery, Inc., 201 Minn. 600, 608, 277 N.W. 221, 226 (1938).
Appellant has argued that it had no duty to exhaust administrative remedies because to do so would have been futile. See State ex rel. Sholes v. University of Minn., 236 Minn. 452, 461, 54 N.W.2d 122, 128 (1952). Appellant's argument is not persuasive; uncertainty of success before an administrative body does not amount to a showing of futility. See Schuyler v. Metropolitan Transit Comm'n, 374 N.W.2d 453, 456 (Minn. App. 1985). Because the evidence sustains the trial court's findings, we affirm the order denying the petition for a writ of mandamus. See Coyle, 526 N.W.2d at 207.
We note that, even were the city to issue a license, appellant has no premises to license. A writ of mandamus will not issue if it is obvious that the writ would be futile, unavailing, or ineffective. Winnetka Partners Ltd. Partnership v. County of Hennepin, 538 N.W.2d 912, 915 (Minn. 1995) (citation omitted).
* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.
 The district court also denied a summary judgment motion brought by the city and the individual defendants, who are two city employees. On appeal, this court reversed as to the individual defendants, concluding that the employees were entitled to qualified immunity. The supreme court denied review of this judgment. See Arbuckle's Bar & Grill, Inc. v. City of St. Paul, No. C0-97-1044 (Minn. App. Feb. 10, 1998), review denied (Minn. Apr. 30, 1998).