Legal Memorandum: Statutory Immunity in MN

Issue: What is the applicability of statutory immunity in Minnesota?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Statutory immunity; Applicability; Whistleblower Act claim
Jurisdiction: Minnesota
Cited Cases: 522 N.W.2d 344
Cited Statutes: § 3.736; § 181.64
Date: 11/01/2012

The Minnesota Supreme Court considered the applicability of statutory immunity to a Whistleblower Act claim in Janklow v. Minnesota Board of Examiners, 552 N.W.2d 711 (Minn. 1996).  The court held in that case that the state board was not entitled to immunity.   “A decision to shield potential government wrongdoing, as urged by the state, would exacerbate public cynicism about the ethics of public officials, and this we do not choose to do.”  Id. at 718.  The court’s opinion considers the waiver of sovereign immunity for tort claims under § 3.736 in detail; the fact that the claim there arose under a statute did not affect the overall analysis. 

The governmental immunity issue was also raised in the Board of Regents v. Reid, 522 N.W.2d 344 (Minn. Ct. App. 1994). In that § 181.64 fraudulent-inducement case against the University of Minnesota, the court explained that the University shares sovereign immunity with the rest of state government, but that “absolute immunity precludes [the plaintiffs] only from seeking damages for defamation,” not on their other claims.  522 N.W.2d at 348 (emphasis added). 


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