Lind Jensen Sullivan & Peterson Successfully Moved to Dismiss a Personal Injury Action Based on a Recent Change to Minnesota’s “hip pocket” Service Rule

July 21, 2016

Lind Jensen Sullivan & Peterson successfully moved to dismiss a personal injury action based on a recent change to Minnesota’s “hip pocket” service rule, defeating a 7.5-year-old claim for more than $50,000 in damages.

The plaintiff had alleged that he slipped and fell on a staircase at the defendant’s apartment complex in December 2008. The plaintiff did not serve his summons and complaint on the owner until December 2014, mere days before the six-year statute of limitations expired. He then waited another 15 months to file his summons and complaint in the district court.

Under previous versions of Minnesota’s civil procedure rules, the plaintiff’s delay in filing his case would not have been an issue. The old rules permitted “hip pocket” service, by which a plaintiff could serve his papers on a defendant and initiate litigation but never actually file the suit in district court. As of July 1, 2014, however, such indefinite delays are no longer allowed. Rule 5.04 of the Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure now requires plaintiffs to file their lawsuits within one year of service on defendants.

Relying on Rule 5.04, LJSP attorneys Brian Wood and Grant Goerke moved to dismiss the plaintiff’s slip-and-fall case, arguing that because the plaintiff filed his papers more than 3 months after the one-year deadline passed, the case should be dismissed. The Hennepin County District Court agreed and dismissed the plaintiff’s claim in its entirety. The district court also agreed with Mr. Wood and Mr. Goerke’s argument that the plaintiff was not entitled to relief for excusable neglect.