• January 27, 2011

Update:  “If you are going to predict,” my uncle (who was a stock broker) used to advise us, “predict often.”

Minnesota Litigator has had a fairly high percentage correct predictions of pending court decisions in the past couple of years, but got this one wrong (see below for a case description and prediction), although it was a very close case (3-2, opinion by Justice Page, joined by Meyer and G. Barry Anderson, Justices Gildea and Dietzen, dissenting, and Justice Stras, taking no part).

The opinions total 43 pages and discuss the filed rate doctrine, primary jurisdiction, and the applicability of Minnesota’s statute of repose for improvements to real property.

Original post (12/3/2009):  Farmers brought action against electric utility provider based on the theory that dairy cow milk production was “disastrously” affected by “stray voltage.”

The District Court denied the utilities motion for summary judgment, certified the question to the Minnesota Court of Appeals, which affirmed (opinion by Lansing, J.) and the Minnesota Supreme Court granted the petition for review.

Oral argument was heard on 12/2/09.

The Court heard argument on three issues: (1) whether tort claims for compensatory damages arising from the delivery of electrical service are barred by the filed-rate doctrine, (2) whether the primary-jurisdiction doctrine bars the district court from considering common-law damages for tort claims arising from the delivery of electrical service, and (3) whether the statute of repose for improvements to real property bars tort claims arising from the delivery of electrical service when the allegations are based solely on the method of service and not on component parts of the electrical-power-distribution system.

A comprehensive discussion of oral argument or the issues in this case are beyond the scope of this blog but I got a strong sense from argument that the Minnesota Court of Appeals decision will be reversed.  I predict that it is just a question of which grounds for reversal will win the day…

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