may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Joseph T. Noonan,
Jacob Properties, Inc.,
Filed December 8, 1998
Ramsey County District Court
File No. C5982261
Michael F. Kelly, Jr., Erik A. Lindseth, Faegre & Benson, L.L.P., 2200 Norwest Center, 90 South Seventh Street, Minneapolis, MN 55402 (for respondent)
Ronald J. Walsh, Ronald J. Walsh, P.A., 8525 Edinbrook Crossing, Suite 107A, Brooklyn Park, MN 55443 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Randall, Presiding Judge, Lansing, Judge, and Short, Judge.
Joseph T. Noonan ("landlord") commenced an unlawful detainer action against Jacob Properties, Inc. ("tenant") after the tenant allegedly breached its commercial lease agreement. Because related litigation was pending in Ramsey County, the trial court issued an order for temporary injunction prohibiting the continuance of the landlord's unlawful detainer action in another county and required the tenant to pay rent to the landlord until further notice. Later, the trial court modified its order, which permitted the landlord to commence a separate unlawful detainer action in Ramsey County. On appeal from a judgment of restitution, the tenant argues the trial court erred in: (1) concluding the tenant was estopped to assert its waiver defense; (2) finding the tenant failed to fulfill its maintenance obligations; and (3) denying the tenant a seven-day grace period under Minn. Stat. § 566.03, subd. 5(c) (1996). The landlord asserts this appeal is moot. We dismiss the appeal as moot.
An unlawful detainer action is a summary remedy for obtaining possession of premises wrongfully held by a tenant after a material breach of the lease. Minn. Stat. § 566.03, subd. 1 (1996); Fritz v. Warthen, 298 Minn. 54, 58, 213 N.W.2d 339, 341 (1973). On appeal from a judgment of restitution in an unlawful detainer, we determine whether the trial court's findings are clearly erroneous. Travelers Ins. Co. v. Tufte, 435 N.W.2d 824, 827 (Minn. App. 1989), review denied (Minn. Apr. 19, 1989); see also Tonka Tours, Inc. v. Chadima, 372 N.W.2d 723, 726 (Minn. 1985) (defining "clearly erroneous" as manifestly contrary to weight of evidence).
The landlord argues the tenant's voluntary vacation of the premises renders this appeal moot. See In re Inspection of Minn. Auto Specialties, Inc., 346 N.W.2d 657, 658 (Minn. 1984) (noting appeal must be dismissed as moot if events render decision unnecessary). We agree. Unlawful detainer actions merely determine the right to present possession and do not adjudicate the ultimate legal or equitable rights of ownership possessed by the parties. Dahlberg v. Young, 231 Minn. 60, 68, 42 N.W.2d 570, 576 (1950); see also University Community Properties, Inc. v. Norton, 311 Minn. 18, 21-22, 246 N.W.2d 858, 860 (1976) (emphasizing long-standing rule that unlawful detainer actions provide summary proceedings to quickly determine present possessory rights). Although the tenant consistently paid rent and posted a cost bond to suspend the execution of the landlord's writ of restitution during this appeal, it voluntarily vacated the premises at the end of the lease term and failed to exercise its unilateral option to renew the lease. Under these circumstances, the tenant's appeal is moot because its actions eliminated the need to determine present possessory rights. See Lanthier v. Michaelson, 394 N.W.2d 245, 246 (Minn. App. 1986) (concluding that, because tenant never posted bond, did not make rental payments to court, and voluntarily relinquished premises, appeal of unlawful detainer judgment is moot), review denied (Minn. Nov. 26, 1986); cf. Scroggins v. Solchaga, 552 N.W.2d 248, 253 (Minn. App. 1996) (holding landlord's execution of writ of restitution during appeal did not negate tenant's claims because tenant involuntarily vacated premises), review denied (Minn. Oct. 29, 1996). Because no justiciable controversy remains, we need not reach the tenant's arguments.