This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).




Dale A. Amundson,



County of Roseau,


Filed August 4, 1998


Peterson, Judge

Roseau County District Court

File No. C397597

Steven A. Anderson, Law Office of Steven A. Anderson, P.A., 115 Roberts Avenue Northeast, P.O. Box 430, Warroad, MN 56763 (for respondent),

Scott T. Anderson, Jill E. Coyle, Ratwik, Roszak & Maloney, P.A., 300 Peavey Building, 730 Second Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55402 (for appellant)

Considered and decided by Amundson, Presiding Judge, Peterson, Judge, and Shumaker, Judge.



Appellant Roseau County challenges the denial of its motion to dismiss respondent Dale A. Amundson's claims for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. We reverse.


After purchasing property on both sides of a county drainage ditch, Amundson placed locked gates on the east and west ends of the spoilbank of the ditch to prevent trespassing on his land.[1] After receiving complaints, the Roseau county board asked Amundson to remove the gates but he refused. Amundson was given notice that the county board would hold a hearing pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 103E.075 (1996) to determine whether the gates obstructed the drainage system.

A hearing was held before the county board. Amundson appeared at the hearing and stated his opposition to removing the gates. After hearing testimony, the county board determined that an obstruction existed pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 103E.075 and passed a resolution, which ordered

that the gates be removed from the ditch, county road ditch system 23, on the north side of Section 29, that Mr. Amundson be asked to take the gates down, and if he doesn't take them down, then the County Board take them down and charge him accordingly.

Proposed findings of facts and conclusions were drafted, but the board refused to sign the document because it contained errors. The board ordered that after the document was revised, the board chairman and the county auditor would sign it. However, the document was never signed. Although Amundson was ordered to remove the gates, the county never set a deadline for their removal.

When Amundson failed to remove the gates, the county had the gates removed. Amundson sued the county, alleging that: (1) the county board's resolution exceeded its jurisdiction and was arbitrary, capricious, and without basis in fact or law; and (2) the county committed a trespass by going onto his property and removing the gates.

Roseau County moved to dismiss on grounds that the district court did not have subject matter jurisdiction to consider an appeal from a quasi-judicial decision of the county board. The district court denied the motion. The court ruled that because the county board acted beyond the authority granted it under Minn. Stat. § 103E.075 when it ordered the removal of an obstruction from a ditch spoilbank, Amundson can collaterally attack the board's order in the district court.


An order denying a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction is appealable as a matter of right. McGowan v. Our Savior's Lutheran Church, 527 N.W.2d 830, 833 (Minn. 1995). The district court's authority to decide an appeal from an administrative body's decision is a jurisdictional matter. See Naegele Outdoor Adver., Inc. v. Minneapolis Community Dev. Agency, 551 N.W.2d 235, 237 (Minn. App. 1996). Jurisdiction is a question of law, which this court reviews de novo. Rice Lake Contracting Corp. v. Rust Env't & Infrastructure, Inc., 549 N.W.2d 96, 99 (Minn. App. 1996), review denied (Minn. Aug. 20, 1996).

Roseau County argues that the district court did not have jurisdiction over Amundson's claims. The county contends that the only available method of reviewing the board's quasi-judicial decision was a writ of certiorari to the court of appeals. We agree.

[I]n the absence of an adequate method of review or legal remedy, judicial review of the quasi-judicial decisions of administrative bodies, if available, must be invoked by writ of certiorari.

Dietz v. Dodge County, 487 N.W.2d 237, 239 (Minn. 1992).

Unless a statute or appellate rule vests judicial review in the district court, a party seeking judicial review of an administrative agency's quasi-judicial decision must petition the court of appeals for a writ of certiorari. Micius v. St. Paul City Council, 524 N.W.2d 521, 522 (Minn. App. 1994); Neitzel v. County of Redwood, 521 N.W.2d 73, 75-76 (Minn. App. 1994), review denied (Oct. 27, 1994). If no statute or rule expressly vests judicial review in the district court, this court has exclusive certiorari jurisdiction. Township of Honner v. Redwood County, 518 N.W.2d 639, 641 (Minn. App. 1994), review denied (Minn. Sept. 16, 1994).

Minn. Stat. § 103E.075, subd. 3 (1996), provides:

The board shall hear all interested parties and if the board determines that the drainage system has been obstructed by a person or public authority, the board shall order the obstruction removed by the responsible party within a reasonable time set in the order. If the obstruction is not removed by the prescribed time, the board shall have the obstruction removed * * *.

Amundson has not cited any statute or appellate rule that vests judicial review of a county board's obstruction determination under Minn. Stat. § 103E.075 (1996) in the district court. Therefore, if the board's determination is a quasi-judicial decision, the only available method of review is by writ of certiorari to the court of appeals.

[T]he scope of the writ of certiorari is confined to review of proceedings that are judicial or quasi-judicial in character and is not available to review legislative or purely ministerial acts of administrative agencies or officers. To render the proceedings of an administrative agency judicial in their nature, they must affect the legal or property rights of the citizen in a manner analogous to the courts acting judicially.

Mahnerd v. Canfield, 297 Minn. 148, 152, 211 N.W.2d 177, 179-80 (1973) (citations omitted).

It may be said generally that the exercise of judicial functions is to determine what the law is, and what the legal rights of parties are, with respect to a matter in controversy; and whenever an officer is clothed with that authority, and undertakes to determine those questions, he acts judicially.

State ex rel. Board of County Comm'rs. v. Dunn, 86 Minn. 301, 304, 90 N.W. 772, 773 (1902).

The supreme court has recently explained that

quasi-judicial conduct is marked by an investigation into a disputed claim and a decision binding on the parties. Even though the phrase "quasi-judicial act" has sometimes been so broadly defined that it can be said to include almost any administrative decision based on evidentiary facts, it seems to us that we would be well-advised today to apply the term only to those administrative decisions which are based on evidentiary facts and which resolve disputed claims of rights.

Meath v. Harmful Substance Compensation Bd., 550 N.W.2d 275, 279 (Minn. 1996). Implicit in a quasi-judicial decision is the application of a prescribed standard. See id. at 280. (Anderson, J., concurring specially) (distinguishing between quasi-judicial and legislative functions).

The county board held a hearing to determine whether Amundson's gates obstructed a drainage system. The board heard testimony and engaged in investigation, consideration, and evaluation of evidentiary facts to determine whether the gates constituted an obstruction to a drainage system within the meaning of Minn. Stat. § 103E.075. The county board's determination was a quasi-judicial decision. Therefore, Amundson's exclusive method to obtain judicial review was petitioning this court for a writ of certiorari.

Citing Johnson v. Steele County, 240 Minn. 154, 60 N.W.2d 32 (1953), Amundson argues that the county board's decision can be attacked collaterally in a trespass action because the board lacked jurisdiction to remove his gates. In Johnson, a county board received a petition asking for a ditch to be repaired. Id. at 157, 60 N.W.2d at 36. The petition could only qualify as a "repair" petition and not as an "improvement" petition because of the limited number of signers. Id. Pursuant to the petition, the board had engineering plans prepared and, after conducting a public hearing, accepted the plans and ordered the proposed construction work. Id. at 157-58, 60 N.W.2d at 36.

A landowner who did not appeal from the county board's order brought an action in nuisance and trespass against the county for alleged invasions of his property during the ditch construction work that had been ordered by the county board. Johnson, 240 Minn. at 158, 60 N.W.2d at 36. The landowner contended that the construction work ordered by the county board constituted an improvement to the ditch and that the county board was without jurisdiction to order the work because no proper petition for an improvement had been filed. Id. at 156, 60 N.W.2d at 35. The county contended that the landowner's remedy was an appeal from the county board decision in the ditch proceeding as permitted by statute and that no collateral attack could be made on the ditch proceeding. Id. at 160, 60 N.W.2d at 37. The supreme court concluded that the landowner could collaterally attack the county board's order in a nuisance and trespass action. Id. The court stated:

Thus, under the facts alleged, the county was without jurisdiction to appropriate or damage plaintiff's land and property, and any "improvements" of the ditch were completely without authority of law. Our statutory drainage proceedings invoke the power of eminent domain. In those proceedings, a judgment or order rendered without jurisdiction may of course be collaterally attacked. The same is true of statutory drainage proceedings. A person injured by such proceedings instigated without authority of law is not obliged to seek his remedy in the same proceeding by appeal or otherwise.

Johnson, 240 Minn. at 160-61, 60 N.W.2d at 37-38 (citations omitted).

Amundson's reliance on Johnson is misplaced. Johnson did not address the availability or the propriety of certiorari review; it stated only that where drainage proceedings were improperly instituted, a person injured by a determination made in the drainage proceeding was not required to seek his remedy in the improperly instituted proceeding. Furthermore, any support Amundson may have once drawn from Johnson is significantly eroded by the supreme court's more recent Dietz decision. Under Dietz, whether the county board was without jurisdiction to order the removal of Amundson's gates could be properly reviewed in a certiorari proceeding. See Dietz, 487 N.W.2d at 239 (quoting State ex rel. Ging v. Board of Educ., 213 Minn. 550, 571, 7 N.W.2d 544, 556 (1942) (overruled on other grounds)) (review by certiorari includes questions affecting jurisdiction of board, regularity of its proceedings, and whether determination was arbitrary, oppressive, unreasonable, fraudulent, under erroneous theory of law, or without evidence to support it).

Amundson also contends that appeal to this court by writ of certiorari was not possible because the county board never served him with a final order. Amundson asserts that the county board failed to follow Minn. Stat. § 103E.075, which specifically required the board to issue a written order notifying Amundson of its decision. Amundson further argues that because the county board's resolution set no deadline for removing the gates, as required by Minn. Stat. § 103E.075, the resolution was not a final order. We disagree.

Under Minn. Stat. § 606.01 (1996), no writ of certiorari shall be issued unless "the party applying for such writ shall have received due notice of the proceeding sought to be reviewed thereby."

"[D]ue notice" requires, at a minimum, that notice be given in writing and that it be reasonably calculated to reach the [aggrieved party].

Bahr v. City of Litchfield, 420 N.W.2d 604, 607 (Minn. 1988). In Bahr, this court held that informing civil service applicants that written notice would be posted, followed by a posting actually read by the applicant litigants, was sufficient notice under section 606.01. Id.

Amundson was present at the hearing when the board passed the resolution that concluded that Amundson's gates were an obstruction to the drainage system and ordered Amundson to remove the gates. This resolution was published in a local newspaper. Moreover, the county board provided Amundson with a copy of the proposed findings of fact, conclusions, and order. Although the published resolution, as well as the proposed findings of facts and conclusion of law, failed to provide Amundson with a prescribed time by which the gates were to be removed, they constituted a final order that satisfied the "due notice" requirement of Minn. Stat. § 606.01.

Amundson's exclusive method to obtain judicial review of the county board's decision was by writ of certiorari.


[1] Motor vehicles can be driven on the spoilbank, but the parties dispute whether the spoilbank is a township road.