The city of Apple Valley has agreed to settle a class action federal lawsuit filed in 2020 that challenges the constitutionality of a 2017 city ordinance that limits where some sex offenders can live in the community.
The Apple Valley City Council, without discussion, approved a settlement agreement as part of the consent agenda during its March 25 meeting.
According to the agreement, one payment of $70,000 will be made to “resolve all claims for damages, fees and costs.” Of that total, two plaintiffs will reach receive $15,000 while the remaining $40,000 will go to their attorneys. In the agreement, none of the parties admit any liability or validity of the claims or defenses asserted.
The $70,000 settlement amount will be paid by the city’s insurer, the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust, according to a statement provided by City Administrator Tom Lawell.
“Although the city disagrees with the premise of the challenge to the ordinance’s constitutionality and maintains that the ordinance is appropriately enforced, the city felt it was in the best interests of the parties to resolve the case. This resolution avoids additional time, expense, and uncertainties of the litigation process. Also, this settlement does not affect the lawful authority of the ordinance, going forward,” the statement says.
“The city takes seriously all violations that could affect the well-being of Apple Valley residents. The safety of residents is the city’s primary concern, and the city will continue to uphold all provisions of the sex offender restriction ordinance to help ensure safety concerns continue to be thoroughly addressed.”
In the original lawsuit filed Feb. 12, 2020, three unnamed sex offenders sought an injunction to prevent the city from enforcing the ordinance. They also sought judgment to recover attorney’s fees and costs incurred in bringing the action.
The lawsuit alleged that the restrictions imposed by the ordinance “are so severe that they effectively ban individuals subject to the ordinance’s restrictions from residing anywhere in Apple Valley,” according to court documents.