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Legal Memorandum: Waiver and Equitable Estoppel Defenses in MN

Issue: Viability of the affirmative defenses of waiver and equitable estoppel in Minnesota.

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Affirmative defenses of waiver and equitable estoppel; Viability
Jurisdiction: Minnesota
Cited Cases: 234 N.W. 646; 784 N.W.2d 857; 364 N.W.2d 422; 182 Minn. 338; 403 N.W.2d 252; 742 N.W.2d 422; 230 Minn. 308; 84 N.W.2d 593
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 11/01/2010

Waiver is the intentional relinquishment of a known right, or being estopped from enforcing it.  In re Civil Commitment of Giem, 742 N.W.2d 422, 432 (Minn. 2007).  “Waiver is consensual in nature.  It arises from voluntary choice, not mere negligence.  Intent and knowledge are essential elements of a finding of waiver.”  Id. at 432 (citations omitted).  However, waiver can be inferred from conduct or acquiescence.  Id.  It is “‘essentially unilateral  and results in a legal consequence from some act or conduct of the party against whom it operates, without any act of the party in whose favor it is made being necessary to complete it.'”  Valspar Refinish, Inc. v. Gaylord’s Inc., 764 N.W.2d 359, 367 (Minn. 2009) (quoting Anderson v. Twin City Rapid Transit Co., 271 Minn. 167, 181, 84 N.W.2d 593, 603 (1965)).

“The question of waiver is largely one of intention.  It need not be proved by express declaration or agreement, but may be inferred from acts and conduct not expressly waiving the right. Waiver is ordinarily a question of fact for the jury.”  Engstrom v. Farmers & Bankers Life Ins. Co., 230 Minn. 308, 311-12, 41 N.W.2d 422 (1950).  Intent is “rarely to be inferred as a matter of law.  Conduct indicating a waiver may be so inconsistent with a purpose to stand upon one’s rights as to leave no room for a reasonable inference to the contrary.  Then the intent to waive appears as a […]

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