Legal Memorandum: Declaratory Judgment and Standing in MN

Issue: Under Minnesota law, may a party bring an action for declaratory judgment absent standing?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Declaratory judgment; Standing
Jurisdiction: Minnesota
Cited Cases: 301 Minn. 28
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 11/01/2012

Standing is a required element in every case; it is the fundamental prerequisite that each party have a sufficient stake in a justiciable controversy to seek relief from a court.  State by Humphrey v. Phillip Morris, 551 N.W.2d 490, 493 (Minn. 1996).  If a plaintiff lacks standing to bring a suit, the suit must be dismissed.  Id.  Moreover, the contention that a party lacks standing can never be waived and may be raised at any time.  Patzner v. Schaefer, 551 N.W.2d 736, 737 (Minn. Ct. App. 1996).

            Standing is acquired in two ways:  either the plaintiff has suffered some “injury-in-fact” or the plaintiff is the beneficiary of some legislative enactment granting standing.  Phillip Morris, 551 N.W.2d at 493 (citing Snyder’s Drug Stores, Inc. v. Minnesota State Bd. of Pharmacy, 301 Minn. 28, 31-32, 221 N.W.2d 162, 165 (1974)).  Generally, when, as here, the plaintiff does not allege a common law cause of action but, instead, alleges only a violation of statute, a party can acquire standing only if the legislature provides for it.  See Alliance for Metropolitan Stability v. Metropolitan Council, 671 N.W.2d 905, 916 (Minn. Ct. App. 2003).  Furthermore, the declaratory judgments act cannot be used as an independent source of standing.  Id. at 915-16 (“The Uniform Declaratory Judgments Act, however, is not an express independent source of jurisdiction.  A party seeking a declaratory judgment must have an independent, underlying cause of action based on a common-law or statutory right.”).


Subscribe to Litigation Pathfinder

To get the full-text of this Legal Memorandum ... and more!

(Month-to-month and annual subscriptions available)