Judge Dismisses MPR Suit Against Met Council

A Ramsey County district court judge reportedly called MPR's lawsuit "premature"; MPR wanted the Met Council to use a steel-springs system in order to reduce vibrations in front of MPR's broadcast facility, but the less costly rubber pad that the Met Council wants to use instead may be a sufficient alternative, she said.

A Ramsey County district court judge dismissed a lawsuit that Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) filed against the Metropolitan Council over noise and vibrations caused by the Central Corridor light-rail line that's now under construction.

In its lawsuit, filed in February 2010, MPR claimed that the Met Council reneged on an April 2009 agreement regarding noise mitigation.

At that time, the Met Council agreed to install a “floating slab track” in front of the MPR broadcast facility on Cedar Street to reduce vibrations. MPR favored a more expensive system that used steel springs, which it said had a track record of good performance. But the Met Council instead opted to use a rubber pad-a less costly option and one that MPR said didn't have a track record in Minnesota's weather conditions.

MPR claimed that the Met Council's choice represented a breach of contract.

According to a Friday MPR story, Ramsey County District Court Judge Elena Ostby disagreed. She reportedly said that MPR's lawsuit was “premature” because although the rubber pad doesn't have a good track record, it also doesn't have a bad one and may well be able to sufficiently protect MPR from noise and vibrations as intended.

Ostby reportedly confirmed that a spring system will need to be used if the pads fail to work sufficiently.

In response to the dismissal of the suit, Met Council Chair Susan Haigh said in a statement: “The Council is gratified at today's action by the Ramsey County District Court to dismiss MPR's lawsuit. We have always felt the contract between the Council and MPR is clear and unambiguous. The Council has and will continue to honor its contract with MPR to mitigate vibration near the MPR building.”

According to the MPR report, the news organization is still considering its options.

“This lawsuit is based on performance; it's based on advice from engineering experts that the vibration/mitigation for the light rail is designed to meet the performance standards in the agreement,” MPR Vice President of Technology and Operations Nick Kereakos told an MPR reporter. “If those aren't met, the judge has confirmed it will have to be replaced to meet those standards.”

The 11-mile Central Corridor light-rail line-a $957 project that will connect downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul along University and Washington avenues-is scheduled to begin operating in 2014.

The Met Council and the University of Minnesota in September 2010 settled a university-filed lawsuit related to concerns about the light-rail line. But the Met Council still faces a federal lawsuit filed in January 2010 by a group of organizations, businesses, and residents-including the St. Paul branch of the NAACP-regarding the impact of the light-rail line on nearby businesses.