Minneapolis Sign Hangers

Dahlen v. City of Minneapolis
Challenging Minneapolis' Sign Licensing Law


IJ Client Dan Dahlen

The City of Minneapolis retains the discretionary power to issue or deny sign hanger licenses. Unfortunately, its ordinance does not provide meaningful standards or safeguards to constrain this power. Any qualified sign hanger can be refused a license for any reason or no reason at all. Even more troubling, many new or renewed applications are simply postponed for months at a time-arbitrarily foreclosing many sign hangers from legally doing business in Minneapolis. At the same time, City Zoning Inspector Stuart Roberson has imposed competency testing on applicants-despite such testing having been repealed by the City Council in 2002.

That's why Dan Dahlen, Truong Xuan Mai and their businesses, Dahlen Sign Company and Lighttech, Inc., have joined with the Institute for Justice Minnesota Chapter (IJ-MN) to vindicate the constitutional principle that procedural due process requires notice, an opportunity to be heard and a timely decision based on knowable standards. On May 4, 2006, IJ-MN filed a lawsuit asking the Hennepin County District Court of the State of Minnesota to stop the City of Minneapolis from denying or postponing licenses to people and businesses that meet the objective requirements of the City Code.

This lawsuit, Dahlen v. City of Minneapolis, is the third case in the Institute for Justice Minnesota Chapter's campaign to restore economic liberty as a basic civil right under both the Minnesota State and U.S. Constitutions. The first was Anderson v. Minnesota Board of Barber and Cosmetologist Examiners, in which IJ-MN successfully freed African hairbraiders from the State of Minnesota's onerous cosmetology licensing regime. The second was Crockett v. Minnesota Department of Public Safety, in which IJ-MN successfully stopped the government from enforcing a blanket ban on advertising, soliciting or using the Internet to conduct lawful, direct sales of wine.

IJ-MN seeks to restore the constitutional protection for the right to economic liberty-the right to earn an honest living in the occupation of one's choice free from excessive government regulation.

On September 30, a consent judgment approved by Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak went into effect that frees entrepreneurs for undefined regulatory processes and requires the City to issue occupational licenses to all applicants who can show proof of insurance. This means that Dan Dahlen and Truong Xuan Mai should be hanging signs in Minneapolis soon.

Essential Background


Background on this case

Client Photo

Latest Release: More Signs of Success for IJ Minnesota Chapter Consent Judgment Frees Minneapolis-area Sign Hangers (October 2, 2006)

Client Video - none available

Client Audio - freeliberal.com

Launch Release: Institute for Justice Minnesota Chapter Challenges Minneapolis’ Sign Licensing Law (May 4, 2006)

Legal Briefs and Decisions

Consent Judgment (September 11, 2006)


Case Timeline

Filed Lawsuit:


May 4, 2006

Court Filed:


Minnesota's Fourth Judicial District Court for Hennepin County




Next Key Date:




Additional Releases

Maps, Charts and Facts

none available

Statewide Study On Government Barriers to Entrepreneurship in Minnesota






Op-eds, News Articles and Links

Article: Minnesota: Land of 9,998 Regulations, Liberty & Law (December 2006)

Article: Signs of Opportunity & Freedom, Liberty & Law (August 2006)

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