Legal Memorandum: Law of the Case Doctrine in MN

Issue: Applicability of the law of the case doctrine in a fraudulent transfer challenge in Minnesota.

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Law of the case doctrine; Fraudulent transfer
Jurisdiction: Minnesota
Cited Cases: 662 N.W.2d 150; 216 N.W.2d 674; 624 F.2d 822; 915 P.2d 479; 888 P.2d 571; 414 N.W.2d 717; 74 P.3d 166; 751 N.W.2d 493
Cited Statutes: accord Restatement (Second) of Judgments §12, cmt. d; Minn. Stat. § 518.145, subd. 2 (2012)
Date: 09/01/2012

Generally speaking, Minnesota law favors the finality of judgments, and seeks to achieve orderly processes by allowing parties to rely on the certainty of court orders.  Kansas City S. Ry. v. Great Lakes Carbon Corp., 624 F.2d 822, 825-26 (8th Cir. 1980); accord Restatement (Second) of Judgments §12, cmt. d.  In addition, the law of the case doctrine prevents the relitigation of a settled issue in a case and requires courts to adhere to decisions made in earlier proceedings.  Mosley v. City of Northwoods, 415 F.3d 908, 911(8th Cir. 2005).  This doctrine provides, in general, that a decision on an issue made by a court at one stage of a case should be given effect in successive stages of the same litigation.  Nemec v. Clark, No. C0-00-245 (Minn. Ct. App. Aug. 22, 2000). 

The law of the case doctrine has two distinct branches.  Under the first branch, an appellate court decision on a given issue establishes the law of the case, which must be followed on remand to the district court, or on a later appeal in the appellate court.  Id. (citing authority).  Under the second branch, a district court may, in its discretion, decline to reconsider an issue previously decided by itself or a coordinate district court in the course of the same litigation.  Id. (citing cases).  The purposes of the second branch are judicial economy and comity among coordinate district courts.  Id. (citing cases).  It is not entirely clear, however, that the […]

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