MN High Court Clarifies Civil Pleading Standard

Minnesota case law summary by Attorney Richard Clem: civil procedure.

Laura L. Walsh v U.S. Bank, N.A.. MN civil procedure

Laura Walsh defaulted on her mortgage, and U.S. Bank commenced a non-judicial foreclosure. As a part of the foreclosure, U.S. Bank attempted to serve the documents, and the process server encountered a person referred to as "Jane Doe." Ms. Doe refused to give her name or to acquiese, and the process server left the papers at the door. After the foreclosure, Walsh brought an action to set aside the foreclosure. U.S. Bank moved to dismiss, and the District Court, Hennepin County, granted the motion. The trial court held that Walsh's claim was implausible, and applied the rules announced by the U.S. Supreme Court in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009).

Those cases held that the corresponding Federal RUle of Civil Procedure 8 required that a claim be plausible. Dissatisfied with this outcome, Walsh appealed to the Minnesota Court of Appeals, which held that the corresponding Minnesota rule did not impose a "plausibility" requirement. The Court of Appeals agreed and reversed the District Court. U.S. Bank then took the case to the Minnesota Supreme Court.

The Minnesota high court agreed that Rule 8 of the Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure does not impose a "plausibility" requirement for pleadings. Instead, the court upheld its own earlier holdings in First National Bank of Henning v. Olson, 246 Minn. 28, 74 N.W.2d 123 (1955) and Northern States Power Co. v. Franklin, 265 Minn. 391, 122 N.W.2d 26 (1963).

Chief Justice Gildea wrote a concurring opinion and argued that the Court needn't have decided the issue, since the complaint in this case satisfied the more rigorous plausibility standard of the two federal cases.

No. A13-0742 (Minn. Aug. 4, 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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