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Legal Memorandum: Summary Judgment on Government Tort Immunity

Issue: Under Minnesota law, when will a party be granted summary judgment on the issue of governmental tort immunity?

Area of Law: Government Claims, Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Summary judgment; Governmental tort immunity
Jurisdiction: Minnesota
Cited Cases: 474 N.W.2d 209
Cited Statutes: Minn. R. Civ. P. 56.03
Date: 03/01/2007

The ultimate burden of proof on the issue of whether immunity applies lies with the party asserting it.  Rehn v. Fischley, 557 N.W.2d 328, 333 (Minn. 1997); Brown v. City of Bloomington, 706 N.W.2d 519, 522 (Minn. Ct. App. 2005), pet. review denied Minn. Feb. 22, 2006).  In addition, when a party seeks summary judgment, it also bears the burden of showing the absence of disputed material facts and that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.  Minn. R. Civ. P. 56.03; Anderson v. State, DNR, 693 N.W.2d 181, 186 (Minn. 2005).  Thus, when a party seeks summary judgment based entirely on the defense of immunity, that party must show the absence of material facts with respect to each element of the defense in order to demonstrate it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.  Minn. R. Civ. P. 56.03; see W.J.L. v. Bugge, 573 N.W.2d 677, 679 (Minn. 1998). 

To defeat the motion, the party opposing the motion need not produce substantial evidence; rather, all that is required is for the opposing party to point to sufficient evidence on any essential element of the moving party’s case to permit reasonable persons to draw different conclusions on that element.  See Schroeder v. St Louis County, 708 N.W.2d 497, 507 (Minn. 2006).  All inferences must be drawn in favor of the party opposing the motion, and the evidence must be viewed in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party.  Hopkins by LaFontaine […]

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