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August 11, 2020
Best & Flanagan’s Appellate Team Prevails in Eighth Circuit and Minnesota Supreme Court

On Monday, August 10, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed a decision from the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota regarding alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”).

Brian Linnerooth, with assistance from Katie Barrett Wiik, successfully argued on behalf of a restaurant and real property owner that the plaintiff who filed an ADA claim against them lacked Article III standing. The plaintiff travelled nearly 50 miles in order to test businesses in Red Wing, Minnesota for ADA compliance. Following the initiation of the lawsuit, our clients made all repairs recommended by an ADA expert, and moved for summary judgment. The district court concluded the plaintiff had no specific intent to return to the Red Wing restaurant in the foreseeable future. Instead, the district court found the plaintiff established—at most—an intent to return to the restaurant “some day,” which the court concluded was legally insufficient. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed, affirming the district court’s order dismissing the lawsuit for lack of standing.

To read the full opinion, please see: 19-2474

In a double victory, the Minnesota Supreme Court issued two opinions on Wednesday, July 29, 2020 in favor of Best & Flanagan clients.

Amy Conners, with collaboration and support from Helen Sullivan-Looney and Katie Barrett Wiik, successfully represented our pro bono client, a victim in an alleged criminal sexual assault case pending in Hennepin County. When asked to disclose her cell phone data directly to a defense-hired expert, our client filed a motion to quash the subpoena arguing that compliance was unreasonable. 

The Court held, in a unanimous decision, “that defense counsel could not receive a victim’s confidential records without those records first being reviewed in camera by the district court.” The decision also sets a standard for third-party subpoenas issued in Minnesota criminal courts. When an alleged victim files a motion to quash or modify a subpoena under Minnesota Rule of Criminal Procedure 22.01, subdivision 5, the district court must consider whether compliance with the subpoena would be unreasonable under the totality of the circumstances, which should include the privacy interests of the victim.

To read the full opinion, please see: A20-0127

In a separate opinion, the Court had its first opportunity to interpret and apply Minnesota’s Insurance Standard of Conduct statute, Minn. Stat. § 604.18 (2018). The Court found that “the district court did not clearly err by determining that the insured proved that the insurer did not have a reasonable basis for denying the insured’s claim for benefits and that the insurer knew, or recklessly disregarded, that it lacked a reasonable basis for denying the insured’s claim for benefits.”

By affirming our client’s “bad faith” judgment in district court, the Court also determined that the clearly erroneous standard of review applies to an appellate court’s evaluation of a district court’s findings relating to whether an insurance company acted reasonably in evaluating its insured’s claim. It is a strong opinion that should help ensure that insureds are treated fairly by their insurers, and that the statute therefore has some real teeth and enforcement potential.

Best & Flanagan’s Katie Barrett Wiik and Robins Kaplan’s Teresa McClain worked as co-counsel to win the favorable decision. To read the full opinion, please see: A18-1081

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