Legal Memorandum: Spacing Violations and Burden of Proof in MN

Issue: What is considered sufficient evidence for the Minnesota Department of Public Health to meet their burden of proof that a respondent failed to correct spacing violations stated in an Administrative Penalty Order for a mobile home park?

Area of Law: Municipal, County and Local Law, Real Estate Law
Keywords: Burden of proof; Spacing requirement; Vagueness
Jurisdiction: Minnesota
Cited Cases: 754 N.W.2d 386; 431 N.W.2d 868
Cited Statutes: Minn. R. 1400.7300 subp. 5; Minn. Stat. § 327.20, subd. 1(3) and Minn. R. 4630.0400; Minn. Stat. § 645.26 subd. 1
Date: 09/01/2014

The Department bears the burden of proof to show by a preponderance of the evidence that a respondent failed to correct the alleged violations cited in the APO and that a respondent committed repeated violations of statute and rules sufficient to justify the draconian penalty of license revocation.  Minn. R. 1400.7300 subp. 5.  To meet its burden, the Department must show that its proposed action is (1) supported by the greater weight of the evidence; and (2) that it is based on a correct interpretation of the law. 

If there is a proposed action that does not list the location of the alleged violation on premises it is mere speculation to assert that such violations were “uncorrected.”  See Hodgson v. State, 540 N.W.2d 515, 517-18 (Minn. 1995) (preponderance of evidence standard is not satisfied by mere speculation).

Whether a respondent was in violation of the spacing requirement at any time in any location depends on the correct construction of the statute and rule at issue, Minn. Stat. § 327.20, subd. 1(3) and Minn. R. 4630.0400.  This statute provides:

No manufactured home shall be located closer than three feet to the side lot lines of a manufactured home park, if the abutting property is improved property, or closer than ten feet to a public street or alley.  Each individual site shall abut or face on a driveway or clear unoccupied space of not less than 16 feet in width, which space shall have unobstructed access to […]


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