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Berg v. Wiley

Minnesota Supreme Court
264 N.W.2d 145 (1978)



Rodney Wiley (defendant) leased land and a building to Phillip Berg to operate a restaurant business. The lease provided that Phillip was to make no changes to the structure of the building and to ensure that the restaurant was run in an appropriate and lawful manner. Wiley reserved the right to re-enter if the conditions of the lease were not met. Phillip then assigned his interest to his sister, Kathleen Berg (plaintiff), who opened the restaurant. In June 1973, Wiley wrote to Berg claiming that the lease had been violated because Berg’s remodeling altered the structure of the building, and because the health department had noted health code violations. Wiley threatened to retake possession of the building in two weeks if certain problems were not cured. On the last day of the two-week period, Berg closed up the restaurant and hung out a “Closed for Renovations” sign. On that day, Wiley attempted to have the locks changed, but was stopped by Berg. After the restaurant closed, Berg called the police as a result of Wiley’s knocking loudly on the back door demanding admittance. Also, that same evening, Wiley called the police when he witnessed Berg removing paneling from the wall, allegedly fearing destruction of the property. Although the lease term was set to expire in December 1975, Wiley changed the locks the following Monday. Berg sued Wiley for wrongful eviction, seeking damages for lost profits and other tort damages. Wiley raised a defense of abandonment and filed a counterclaim for the damages to the property. The case went to a jury, which found that the act of locking Berg out was unlawful, and that Berg neither abandoned nor surrendered the property. Wiley appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Rogosheske, J.)

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