Congratulations to the Minnetonka law firm of Johnson & Johnson for their win against the county of Anoka in connection with their clients’ road-kill bill.
The city of Anoka entered into a contract with Rick Johnson’s Deer & Beaver, Inc. (“D&B”). D&B agreed to collect “all” of the county’s deer and beaver road kill on a negotiated payment schedule. Then, while under contract with D&B, Anoka decided to use prison labor for the same task.
Anoka raised many defenses, each more putrid than the other, and the rankest of all being that “all,” in the expression, “all deer carcasses located on or near Anoka County highways” did not mean “‘all’ as in….’all.'”
The county argued that “the parties intended the word ‘all’ in the contracts to mean something other than ‘all.'”
The Court of Appeals opinion does not elaborate on this audacious argument, which might make the County Attorneys’ office look worse (or better) than it would if we heard the detail.
We can be sure that the idea of using prisoners to pick up road kill sounded like great savings to some Anoka County decision-maker. The decision-maker under-appreciated the risk that it would leave the County in the position of paying D&B for carcasses that D&B did NOT pick up….
Although prison labor might be free (or nearly free), someone (we hope Anoka County, in fairness) had to pay the costs associated with prison labor to harvest carcasses and now, in addition, Anoka County has to pay D&B.
Query whether any public official will have to pay politically for this expensive misstep and whether anyone should have to.