Legal Memorandum: Private Right of Action in MN

Issue: Under Minnesota law, is an allegation of threatened or future harm sufficient to support standing for a declaratory judgment action under Minn. Stat. 8.31, subd 3a?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Civil action for damages and equitable relief; Persons injured; Threatened or future harm
Jurisdiction: Minnesota
Cited Cases: None
Cited Statutes: Minn. Stat. § 8.31, subd 3a
Date: 11/01/2012

The plain, unambiguous language of the statute provides only that “any person injured” (past tense) may bring a civil action for damages and equitable relief.  Minn. Stat. § 8.31, subd 3a.*FN1  No remedy is provided to those facing imminent future injury or those threatened with harm.  The legislature could have easily so provided but it chose not to do so.

Case law supports this plain meaning construction of the statute.  As recently noted, “[d]espite the broad construction for standing under Minnesota’s . . . consumer protection laws, the essential element of an injury is required.”  Thunander v. Uponor, Inc., 887 F. Supp. 2d 850, 877 (D. Minn. 2012).  “A plaintiff need only plead that the defendant engaged in conduct prohibited by the statutes and that the plaintiff was damaged thereby.”  Id. (emphasis added).  For injunctive relief there must be both actual, completed injury as well as threatened, irreparable harm.  Buetow v A.L.S. Enters., 650 F.3d 1178, 1184-85 (8th Cir. 2011); Mooney v. Allianz Life Ins. Co. of N. Am., Civil No. 06-545 ADM/FLN, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 7447 (D. Minn. Jan. 29, 2010) (Montgomery, J.) (“The plain language of the statute allows only persons injured by a violation of the MPCFA to recover damages or other equitable relief, and the Eighth Circuit has so held.”).


*FN1 Minnesota Statuteu § 8.13, subdivision 3a provides for a private right of action:

In addition to the remedies otherwise […]