MN Joint Underwriting Association Not Subject to Data Practices Act

Minnesota case law summary by Attorney Richard Clem: MN data practices act.

Minnesota Joint Underwriting Association v. Star Tribune Media Company, LLC. MN data practices act

The Minnesota Joint Underwriting Association (MJUA) was created by the Minnesota Legislature in 1986 to provide insurance coverage to those unable to obtain insurance through ordinary methods. Insurers in the state are required to be members, and it is governed by a 15-member board. Seven members are elected by the membership, and eight members are appointed by the Minnesota Commissioner of Commerce.

A reporter for the Star Tribune made a written request for policyholder data. This request was made under the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act, Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 13. The MJUA denied the request on the grounds that it was not a government entity subject to the data practice law. The newspaper then brought an action in Ramsey County District Court, which agreed with the newspaper and ordered the disclosure. The MJUA then appealed to the Minnesota Court of Appeals. The MJUA first pointed out that the legislature has a naming scheme for state agencies, and that the name of the MJUA, whose name includes the word "association" does not meet that scheme. It argued that this showed a legislative intent to create an entity that is not a state agency.

After examining the legislative history, the court agreed with the MJUA that it was not a state agency, and therefore not subject to the data practice law. For this reason, the Court of Appeals reversed the lower court's ruling.

This decision was affirmed by the Minnesota Supreme Court on April 8, 2015.

No. A13-2112 (Minn. Ct. App. June 9, 2014).

Please see the original opinion for the court's exact language.


Richard P. Clem is an attorney and continuing legal education (CLE) provider in Minnesota. He has been in private practice in the Twin Cities for 25 years. He has a J.D., cum laude, from Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul and a B.A. in History from the University of Minnesota. His reported cases include: Asociacion Nacional de Pescadores a Pequena Escala o Artesanales de Colombia v. Dow Quimica de Colombia, 988 F.2d 559, rehearing denied, 5 F.3d 530 (5th Cir. 1993), cert. denied, 510 U.S. 1041 (1994); LaMott v. Apple Valley Health Care Center, 465 N.W.2d 585 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991); Abo el Ela v. State, 468 N.W.2d 580 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991).

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