Skip to main content

Rainforest Cafe founder loses lawsuit over dock on Lake Minnetonka

Steven Schussler and his wife sued Minnetonka Beach over the municipal dock.
The Schusslers' home, and to the south, the city-owned lane at the end of which a dock is place in the summer.

The Schusslers' home, and to the south, the city-owned lane at the end of which a dock is place in the summer.

The founder of the Rainforest Cafe has lost a lawsuit he brought against the City of Minnetonka Beach over the placement of a municipal dock near his Lake Minnetonka property.

Steven Schussler and his wife Sunhi Ryan-Schussler sued the city and the Lake Minnetonka Conservation District, arguing that the siting of the city lot prevented them from building their own dock and hindered their lake access.

The lawsuit noted that the unusual wedge-shape of the Schusslers' plot of land combined with the shallow water along their shoreline limits their options for building a dock that is long enough to reach navigable depth.

They argued that the city's dock is "disproportionately long" compared to the 41-feet of shoreline owned by the city, and extending at a 45-degree angle into the lake, it impacts their efforts to build their private dock due to its proximity to their own shoreline.

However on Thursday, Hennepin District Judge Thomas Fraser ruled in the city's favor.

The court ruling said that the Schusslers were well aware of the problem with the dock before buying the property and that they were "willing to take the fight on."

They discarded the dock sections that came with the property and pushed ahead with plans to build their own, 175-foot-long, three-boat dock.

Schussler intended to use the dock for storage of a jet ski he described as a "jet ski on steroids," a 31-foot Sea Ray Amberjack, and a 42-foot cruiser.

Since they bought the home, they'd kept their crafts moored at a home they own in Orono which has a dock and slips.

Looking to buy or sell? Find a realtor using the BMTN Directory

A long battle over a dock

The dock on the city's land had initially extended south, cutting across the shoreline of the neighbor on the south side with their permission until 2007, when the neighbor withdrew permission.

The dock was then realigned to extend eastward onto the lake, lining up parallel with a 100-foot dock that had been installed by previous owners of the Schusslers' property to the north. 

Screen Shot 2020-05-15 at 10.34.32 AM

These thrice-removed owners also unsuccessfully sued, and sold the house in 2014 claiming the dock placement caused their home's valuation to dip by up to $1 million.

The next owner installed their own dock with a single slip, but said they couldn't moor their boat there due to the shallow water and the placement of the city dock.

They too sold, in 2016, with an unnamed owner taking over before the Schusslers bought the property in 2017.

Speaking to the Star Tribune, Schussler said they plan to take the case further, saying he always thought it might end up before the Minnesota Supreme Court.

You can find the court ruling here.

Next Up

rep nolan west mn house

MN rep. says he was 'assaulted' at activist group's public meeting

The Republican said a man grabbed his arms and yanked him from the room.

Screen Shot 2022-01-20 at 12.56.52 PM

What were the 'bizarre things' seen in Minnesota's sky?

The mysterious streaks were not UFOs and they weren't pieces of an asteroid.

icicles, freezing weather, cold weather

Booming noises in the night could be frost quakes

The loud sounds are most likely to happen during the middle of the night.

coronavirus, coronavirus test, covid-19

Free COVID testing site to open in St. Paul for 3 weeks

The federal testing site comes as demand for testing remains high.

Reyel Simmons photo 1 - complaint - crop

MN TikToker accused of faking federal agent life pleads guilty

He told his 10,000 followers he was a Homeland Security agent — authorities say it was a lie.

Wilf

Report: Vikings request second interview with 2 GM candidates

Ryan Poles of the Chiefs and Kwesi Adofo-Mensah of the Browns.

Amaya Battle

Hopkins takes on No. 1 team in the country on ESPNU Friday

The game will feature a pair of top recruits in the Class of 2022.

st. paul federation of educators - teachers

Educators in Minneapolis, St. Paul could strike amid contract negotiations

Teachers and support staff are demanding smaller class sizes, mental health support and better pay.

turtinen two harbors

MN mayor in hot water for hawking $400M underwater hotel plan

The city council called a special meeting to discuss the mayor's public comments.

police lights

Woman in critical condition after attempted murder, authorities say

A 33-year-old woman is in custody and facing possible charges.

Flickr - police lights squad siren - Edward Kimmel

Charges: Driver threw 'large rocks' at police car during highway chase

Authorities say the suspect had used methamphetamine earlier in the day.

Related

Orono drops prosecution of homeowner who rented out her dock

The 75-year-old had been renting out the dock to help pay property taxes.

Irwin Jacobs home

Neighbor sues to block estate from dividing millionaire's Lake Minnetonka property

The estate of Irwin Jacobs wants to build six new homes on the late businessman's property.

shorewood dock -edit

Supreme Court to rule on years-long saga over Lake Minnetonka dock

Four Shorewood residents put a dock on a undeveloped property they own, and the city said it violated city code. They disagreed.

Screen Shot 2020-04-02 at 10.42.15 AM

'Ice Out' officially declared on Lake Minnetonka

It marks the start of what is sure to be a really weird boating season.

Historic Pillsbury mansion on Lake Minnetonka is facing demolition

The sprawling estate was once Minnesota's most expensive home.