Leon ordered to pay $140k for cleanup

Published 10:50 am Saturday, February 6, 2010

A Mower County judge on Friday ordered that Maria Leon pay the city roughly $140,000 for work done to clean up her downtown properties, which were destroyed in a January 2009 fire.

Leon, who owns what were the Mi Tierra buildings on Main Street, initially refused to clean up the mess. However, she relented in June and reached a settlement with the city to ultimately cover the costs. Crews began clearing the site shortly thereafter.

The judgment was issued by Donald Rysavy, who ruled that the city be awarded what they had requested in a previously filed affidavit because Leon offered no challenges to the figure.

If Leon does not pay, the case could make its way to collections, though the city would have to instigate the process.

The downtown property owner is believed to be living in Worthington, Minn., and has not spoken publicly about the fire or the clean-up process.

The city initially took legal action against Leon in May, when the site was declared “hazardous.”

However, Leon, through her Minneapolis-based attorney Douglas Nepp, argued that the city had accused her of arson, which delayed insurance payments that could’ve helped with clean-up costs.

City officials have denied specifically accusing Leon of arson, though an arson investigation is considered active at the site.

City attorney Craig Byram said it is his understanding that Leon is still working with her insurance company to secure funds.