Legal Memorandum: Alternative Pleading in MN

Issue: Under Minnesota law, may a party plead alternative causes of action?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Alternative pleading; Separate claims or defenses; Consistency
Jurisdiction: Minnesota
Cited Cases: None
Cited Statutes: Rule 8.05 of the Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure
Date: 03/01/2014

Alternative pleading is expressly permitted by Rule 8.05 of the Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure:

[a] party may set forth two or more statements of a claim or defense alternatively or hypothetically, either in one count or defense or in separate counts or defenses. When two or more statements are made in the alternative and one of them if made independently would be sufficient, the pleading is not made insufficient by the insufficiency of one or more of the alternative statements.  A party may also state as many separate claims or defenses as the party has regardless of consistency and whether based on legal or equitable grounds or both.

See Colombia Cas. Co. v. 3M Co., 814 N.W.2d 33, 37 (Minn. Ct. App. 2012) (“Under rule 8.05, a party can plead alternative or inconsistent theories even though the substantive law precludes double recovery.”); 1 David F. Herr & Roger S. Haydock, Minnesota Practice § 8:7 (5th ed. 2009).


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