Legal Memorandum: Contribution Action in MN

Issue: What determines when a contribution action will ripen under Minnesota Law?

Area of Law: UCC & Secured Transactions
Keywords: Contribution action; Equitable obligation; Contract
Jurisdiction: Minnesota
Cited Cases: 80 Minn. 357; 83 N.W. 346; 275 F. Supp. 582; 512 N.W.2d 872; 232 N.W.2d 227; 305 Minn. 17
Cited Statutes: Minn. Stat. § 541.05; Minn. Stat. § 541.05, subd. 1(1) (2011); Minn. Stat. § 336.3-118; Minn. Stat. § 336.3-118 subd. 1(g)
Date: 02/01/2012

The law provides, in general, that the right to pursue a contribution action “is regarded as maturing when [a party] has paid more than [its] share of the debt, and until that time there is neither equitable obligation nor implied contract to make contribution.”  Canosia Twp. v. Grand Lake Twp., 80 Minn. 357, 359, 83 N.W. 346, 347 (1900), quoted in Senn v. Youngstedt, 589 N.W.2d 314 (Minn. Ct. App. 1999).  See also In re Westerhoff, 688 F.2d 62, 63 (8th Cir. 1982) (similarly reciting that a contribution action ripens only when a party has paid more than its proportionate share of the “total obligation”); Dixon v. Northwestern Nat’l Bank, 275 F. Supp. 582, 584 (D. Minn. 1967) (also reciting the general rule for when contribution actions mature in Minnesota); Grothe v. Shaffer, 305 Minn. 17, 23-24, 232 N.W.2d 227, 232 (1975) (“A claim for contribution does not accrue or mature until the person entitled to the contribution has sustained damage by paying more than his fair share of the joint obligation.”).  See also City of Willmar v. Short-Elliott-Hendrickson, Inc., 512 N.W.2d 872, 874 (Minn. 1994).

Minn. Stat. § 541.05 provides that, except where the Uniform Commercial Code otherwise prescribes, an action upon a contract or other obligation, express or implied, as to which no other limitation is expressly prescribed, must be brought within six years.  Minn. Stat. § 541.05, subd. 1(1) (2011).  A cause of action […]

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