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Minto elevator wins lawsuit

A jury in Walsh County, N.D., recently awarded $455,000 to a grain elevator in Minto, N.D., because the court determined the neighbors improperly reached across property lines to block its expansion.

A jury in Walsh County, N.D., recently awarded $455,000 to a grain elevator in Minto, N.D., because the court determined the neighbors improperly reached across property lines to block its expansion.

Minto Grain L.L.C. had purchased some property from Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad in 2001, including some elevator buildings. The intention was to expand from a six-car loading facility to a 110-car shuttle loader occupying all the land it purchased.

Some of the land was already occupied by Mark and Suzi Tibert, their family and other neighbors, who claimed the land didn't belong to BNSF. They and other neighbors sued Minto Grain multiple times, which delayed the company's expansion plans and, the company said, cost it business that it would otherwise have had.

Minto Grain sought damages of $6.8 million but the jury didn't agree.

The state Supreme Court had ruled earlier that the neighbors' competing claims could not be asserted so long as the railroad is in use. The subsequent lawsuits were, the Walsh County court decided, intentional interference with business expectancy, interference with a contractual relationship and trespass.

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The Tiberts plan to appeal, their attorney said.

- Mikkel Pates

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