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Minnesota Court of Appeals Decides Liability Waiver Issue

In Justice v. Marvel, LLC, A20-1318 (Minn. App. July 19, 2021), the court of appeals decided several issues related to the enforceability of liability waivers. First, the court held that a “parent is authorized to sign, on behalf of his or her own minor child, an exculpatory clause that releases a negligence claim against a third-party.” The court further held that if “the exculpatory clause is valid and enforceable, it is binding on the child after the child becomes an adult.” Second, the court held that an “exculpatory clause that is overly broad because it purports to release claims of...
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Minnesota Court of Appeals Decides Privacy Case

In Smallwood v. State, A21-0001 (Minn. Ct. App. Aug. 23, 2021), the court of appeals decided several issues effecting privacy claims. The case concerned a hacker accessing a Minnesota Department of Human Services e-mail account. Smallwood, who was civilly committed to the state sex-offender program as a sexually dangerous person, was informed that his private information may have been accessed. He sued the state arguing that this caused him emotional and economic harm. Smallwood’s first claim against the state was for violation of the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act. The district court dismissed this claim at the outset for failing...
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Evictions During the Pandemic

COVID-19 has brought unprecedented changes in our world, including evictions in Minnesota. Governor Tim Waltz executed Emergency Executive Order 20-79 on July 14, 2020, which is still in effect for evictions in Minnesota. Under this Order, you cannot evict a tenant unless it falls under a few exceptions. Notably, the tenant may be evicted if they (1) seriously endanger the safety of others, (2) cause significant property damage, or (3) violate Minnesota Statutes 2019, section 504B.171, subdivision 1 (including but not limited to: controlled substances, prostitution, and unlawful possession of a firearm). It is unknown when Executive Order 20-79 will...
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What is the difference between wrongful termination damages and unemployment benefits?

When it comes to the termination of one’s employment, there are typically two issues to think about.  First, is the employee eligible for unemployment benefits?  Second, was the termination “wrongful” in the sense that the terminated employee can sue the employer for damages?  Although related, these are two distinct issues that must be separately analyzed. Generally speaking, an employee who is terminated from employment is eligible for unemployment unless the person was terminated for employment misconduct.  Misconduct is defined to mean “any intentional, negligent, or indifferent conduct, on the job or off the job, that is a serious violation of...
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Custody Rights of Unmarried Fathers in Minnesota

I often receive phone calls from fathers who are frustrated that they cannot see their children because the mother keeps changing her plans or will only let fathers see the children when it is convenient for the mother. Almost daily I hear, “Well, I signed the Recognition of Parentage and birth certificate, how can she do this?” This is because signing the Recognition of Parentage (otherwise known as “ROP,” i.e., a certificate you sign after the birth of a child) is not enough in Minnesota. Minnesota law mandates for fathers to obtain formal rights for parenting time and custody, fathers...
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Requirements for Triggering Pre-Verdict Interest

On January 11, 2021, in Blehr v. Anderson, the court of appeals clarified the requirements for triggering pre-judgment interest under Minn. Stat. 549.09. Section 549.09 allows pre-verdict interest “from the time of the commencement of the action…or the time of a written notice of claim, whichever occurs first.” Often, claimants will send a written letter to the defendant or insurance company prior to making a demand or commencing suit to ensure pre-verdict interest begins to accrue during the investigatory and pre-litigation phase of a claim. Prior to Blehr, debates occurred over what information was sufficient for a pre-suit letter to...
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Update on Expert Witness Requirements in Malpractice Claims

Minn. Stat. § 544.42 generally requires that claimants, who are bringing negligence or malpractice claims against various types of professionals, provide expert testimony establishing the elements of their claim. Claimants may try to avoid this requirement by rebranding their claims as something other than negligence. In Mittelstaedt v. Henney, decided January 4, 2021, the claimant sued his attorney for “breach of fiduciary duty.” The claimant argued that section 544.42’s expert review requirements did not apply because the claim was not for “negligence” or “malpractice.” The court disagreed. It compared the underlying elements of negligence and breach of fiduciary duty claims...
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Who Owns the Dog?

Let’s say you own a dog named Oliver. You love this dog very much but move away for school, so you ask a friend to keep him. Your friend agrees. When you return from school two years later, you ask for Oliver back, but your friend refuses to return Oliver to you. Whose dog is it? This fact situation is actually quite common in our society. The Minnesota Court of Appeals recently decided this very issue in the case Zephier v. Agate. The question turned on whether Oliver was “abandoned” property in the legal sense. As a general rule, property...
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Minor Settlements

Farrish Johnson attorneys Scott Kelly and Daniel Bellig recently secured several settlements for injuries to children arising from motor vehicle, snowmobile, and property accidents. Parents or guardians must bring personal injury claims on behalf of a minor child and all minor settlements must be court approved. Farrish Johnson will work with you to secure the best possible settlement of your child’s claim, including submitting the claim to the proper insurance companies, assisting with payment of medical bills and medical liens, and obtaining court approval of any settlement. If your child has been injured by another’s negligence, let Farrish Johnson’s personal...
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Personal Injury Attorneys

Farrish Johnson attorney Daniel Bellig recently obtained an excellent settlement in a car versus motorcycle accident. The plaintiff alleged that the driver of the car failed to yield the right of way to his oncoming motorcycle by making a left hand turn across the motorcycle’s lane of traffic. The car crushed the plaintiff’s leg against his motorcycle. His injuries ultimately required a below the knee amputation of the crushed leg. If you have been seriously injured by another’s negligence, Farrish Johnson’s personal injury attorneys can assist you with resolving medical bills, obtaining economic loss benefits, and securing pain and suffering...
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