Appeals court backs man who cut garage in half

The garage that Roger Weber cut in half with a chainsaw, as seen on my morning commute on April 26, 2013. The left half has remained standing since as owner Mark Besemann has challenged Weber in court for his actions.

The garage that Roger Weber cut in half with a chainsaw, as seen on my morning commute on April 26, 2013. The left half has remained standing since as owner Mark Besemann has challenged Weber in court for his actions.

I feel obligated to mention the latest on the bisected garage still spurring conversation along Itasca County Highway 8 out in my neighborhood northwest of Nashwauk, Minnesota.

Last week, a state appeals court ruled in favor of Roger Weber, the former state House candidate who cut his late father’s garage in half with a chain saw as the property was about to be sold.

From a John Myers story originally in the Duluth News Tribune:

“While we do not condone the manner in which respondent removed the portion of the garage, shed and lean-to located on his side of the property line, we conclude that in this case, respondent’s (Weber’s) actions do not constitute trespass under Minnesota law,” the three-judge panel concluded.

The ruling upholds a June 2015 decision by Itasca County District Judge Lois Lang in Grand Rapids.

Lang ruled that Weber doesn’t have to pay for effectively ruining the garage because it apparently had been built, decades earlier, half on property that he came to own.

The plaintiff and new owner of the property is Mark Besemann, a friend of mine from high school, though I didn’t know he was involved until months after the garage was cut in 2013. Early on he had hoped to reason with Weber — perhaps purchasing a slice of land to otherwise resolve the dispute. Weber had none of it.

At first I thought the ruling would go against Weber because the garage had been established on that land for decades. But apparently Weber’s father would have had to file some paperwork to effectively claim the land on which the garage sits, something he never did because his son owned the adjacent land.

Wrote Judge Lang in her ruling in the initial civil case:

“This case involves an acrimonious dispute between siblings following their father’s death, and the unfortunate consequences that followed when an unrelated third party purchased land from one sibling involved in the dispute, adjacent to land owned by another sibling involved in the dispute.”

This case always said more about human nature than it reflected the fine points of the law. I suppose a legal mind could derive the following: being unreasonable and among the more dysfunctional members of a dysfunctional family is, in fact, legal — so long as you meticulously cut the garage in half while somehow documenting that you remained on your side of the property line.

This creates a strange legal distinction that requires madness, rather than merely allowing for it. Truly one for law students to analyze for generations.

Comments

  1. This seems like a case where “adverse possession” should apply.

  2. ProudNorthernMinnesotan says:

    How could they legally sell to that guy if the garage situation hadn’t been taken care of?

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