Legal Memorandum: Granting Continuances for Discovery

Issue: Under Minnesota law, when is it appropriate for a court to grant a continuance in order to complete discovery?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Continuance; Complete discovery; Insufficient time
Jurisdiction: Minnesota
Cited Cases: 572 N.W.2d 339; 756 N.W.2d 93; 370 N.W.2d 676
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 06/01/2011

As the Minnesota Court of Appeals recently reiterated, “‘[C]ontinuances should be liberally granted, especially when the continuance is sought because of a claim of insufficient time to conduct discovery.'”  Liberty Mut. Ins. Co. v. Ne. Concrete Prods., LLC, 756 N.W.2d 93, 105 (Minn. App. 2008) (citation omitted).  The decision whether to grant a continuance is within the trial court’s sound discretion.  Id. at 105. 

“Given this presumption in favor of granting continuances to allow sufficient time for discovery,” Rice v. Perl, 320 N.W.2d 407, 412 (Minn. 1982), the court usually focuses on two questions when making such a determination:  “(1) Has [petitioner] been diligent in obtaining or seeking discovery prior to its [motion for continuance]? and (2) Is [petitioner] seeking further discovery in the good faith belief that material facts will be uncovered, or is she merely engaging in a ‘fishing expedition?,'” id. at 412.  In explaining that, the Rice court discussed the importance of allowing a party to engage in sufficient discovery:

As stated in 2 J. Hetland & O. Adamson, Minnesota Practice 588, (1970);


Normally the court will grant additional time to the nonmoving party to obtain the facts if the reason is a matter of insufficient time. A continuance or permission to engage in further discovery should not be denied to a party except in the most extreme circumstances. * * * As a practical matter, the court should be liberal in granting additional time for purposes […]


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