• April 26, 2019

Turtling is an overwhelming temptation for many of us in many situations when confronted. It can be a sound strategy in many contexts. It is an extremely unwise strategy when you have been sued in Minnesota district court.

Plaintiff Mary Brown sued Defendant MSP Services LLC dba MSP Home Rental (“MSP”), alleging that MSP discriminated against her in violation of the Minnesota Human Rights Act based on her disability. MSP claims to have “believed the process was similar to conciliation court and housing
court, where no written response to the claim [was] necessary….” Therefore MSP did not respond to the summons and complaint and, in fact, did not respond to anything until after a default judgment had been entered against it for $915,330.65
.

Post-judgment, when Ms. Brown’s lawyers began their efforts to collect on their judgment against MSP, it occurred to MSP to hire lawyers.

Facepalm (Caïn by Henri Vidal, Tuileries Garden, Paris, 1896. )

“Call the doctor! Grandma’s dead!”

The Minnesota Court of Appeals, in an unpublished decision (don’t get us started), held that the district court abused its discretion when it let MSP off the hook for its cavalier attitude toward Ms. Brown’s lawsuit. That is, the appellate court overruled the trial court’s grant of MSP’s Rule 60.02 motion for relief from judgment, that MSP had sought to get out from under the default judgment against it.

There is no “practice pointer” here for Minnesota litigators. If you don’t see the problem with MSP’s conduct (that is, its lack of conduct, of course), you’re hopeless. But this might be a “case study” for Minnesota citizens and businesses who think that turtling is a viable defense strategy in Minnesota civil litigation.

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