September 23, 2016

Pro Bono Litigation Team Obtains Ruling Against Fraudulent Minneapolis Landlord

A pro bono trial team at Faegre Baker Daniels has prevailed against one of the Minneapolis largest landlords, Stephen Frenz, in a case about Frenz’s failure to properly maintain an apartment building housing numerous low-income families. The team obtained a victory Sept. 13 when a Hennepin Court referee’s interim trial order found that FaegreBD’s client, IX of Powderhorn Park, proved numerous violations of Minnesota Statutes and Code of Ordinance provisions related to rental housing, including rodent, roach and bedbug infestation, inadequate heat and security, and other violations of  tenant rights.

The court also found that Frenz deceived the court in an attempt to get the lawsuit dismissed before trial, and by engaging in “a highly involved, well-orchestrated deception” amounting to “calculated business decisions designed to minimize Defendant’s expenses and potential liability.” As part of its remedy, the Court ordered that an administrator take over managing the building at the center of the lawsuit.

The pro bono team trial team—led by partner Michael Cockson, associates Adam Nodler and Bryan Washburn, and paralegal Barbara Pratt—represents a nonprofit tenant advocacy organization, IX of Powderhorn Park, a subsidiary of Minneapolis-based United Renters for Justice. In January, IX Powderhorn Park filed a building-wide tenant remedies suit in Hennepin County Housing Court against the defendant for failing to alleviate longstanding habitability issues in one of his many Minneapolis apartment buildings.

A front-page story appeared in the Star Tribune Sept. 15. Read article.

The case has been widely covered by the media in outlets including the Star Tribune, City Pages, KMSP-TV, and more:

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