Legal Memorandum: Requisites for Cause of Action Benefits the Public

Issue: Under Minnesota law, what must a plaintiff allege to establish benefit to the public under the private attorney general statute to establish standing and proceed with a declaratory judgment action over consumer protection laws?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Cause of action benefits the public; Standing; Private attorney general statute
Jurisdiction: Minnesota
Cited Cases: 615 N.W.2d 302
Cited Statutes: Minnesota Statute § 8.31, subdivision 3a
Date: 11/01/2012

A plaintiff lacks standing where the plaintiff has made no allegation nor submitted any evidence tending to show that their cause of action pursuant to Minnesota Statute § 8.31, subdivision 3a*FN1 will benefit the public at large.  This statute, referred to as the “Private Attorney General Statute,” has been held to grant a private cause of action only to claimants who, among other requirements, demonstrate that their cause of action benefits the public.  See Ly v. Nystrom, 615 N.W.2d 302, 313-14 (Minn. 2000).  Courts recognize that the holding in Ly thus further limits the standing conferred by the Private Attorney General Statute from “any person” injured by a violation of certain laws to also require that those injured be able to “demonstrate that their cause of action benefits the public.”  Jenson v. Duluth Area YMCA, 688 N.W.2d 574, 578 (Minn. Ct. App. 2004).  Plaintiffs who fail to make the requisite showing of public benefit are routinely dismissed.  See Select Comfort Corp. v. Sleep Better Store, 796 F. Supp. 2d 981, 986-87 (D. Minn. 2011) (citing cases).


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

In addition to the remedies otherwise provided by law, any person injured by a violation of any of the laws referred to in subdivision 1 may bring a civil action and recover damages, together with costs and disbursements, including costs of investigation […]


Subscribe to Litigation Pathfinder

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

(Month-to-month and annual subscriptions available)