Skip to main content Skip to office menu Skip to footer
Minnesota Legislature

Office of the Revisor of Statutes

Key: (1) language to be deleted (2) new language

                            CHAPTER 213-S.F.No. 1513 
                  An act relating to civil actions; modifying and 
                  expanding provisions for sanctions in civil actions; 
                  fixing time limitations on civil actions against 
                  occupational therapists; amending Minnesota Statutes 
                  1996, sections 336.2A-108; 541.07; 566.25; 570.041, 
                  subdivision 1; 571.932, subdivision 6; and 609.5314, 
                  subdivision 3; proposing coding for new law in 
                  Minnesota Statutes, chapter 549; repealing Minnesota 
                  Statutes 1996, section 549.21. 
        BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA: 
                                   ARTICLE 1
                           SANCTIONS IN CIVIL ACTIONS
           Section 1.  [549.211] [SANCTIONS IN CIVIL ACTIONS.] 
           Subdivision 1.  [ACKNOWLEDGMENT REQUIRED.] The parties by 
        their attorneys in a civil action shall attach to and make a 
        part of the pleading, written motions, and papers served on the 
        opposite party or parties a signed acknowledgment stating that 
        the parties acknowledge that sanctions may be imposed under this 
        section. 
           Subd. 2.  [EFFECT OF ACKNOWLEDGMENT.] By presenting to the 
        court, whether by signing, filing, submitting, or later 
        advocating, a pleading, written motion, or other paper, an 
        attorney or unrepresented party is certifying that to the best 
        of the person's knowledge, information, and belief, formed after 
        an inquiry reasonable under the circumstances: 
           (1) it is not being presented for any improper purpose, 
        such as to harass or to cause unnecessary delay or needless 
        increase in the cost of litigation; 
           (2) the claims, defenses, and other legal contentions are 
        warranted by existing law or by a nonfrivolous argument for the 
        extension, modification, or reversal of existing law or the 
        establishment of new law; 
           (3) the allegations and other factual contentions have 
        evidentiary support or, if specifically so identified, are 
        likely to have evidentiary support after a reasonable 
        opportunity for further investigation or discovery; and 
           (4) the denials of factual contentions are warranted on the 
        evidence or, if specifically so identified, are reasonably based 
        on a lack of information or belief. 
           Subd. 3.  [SANCTIONS MAY BE IMPOSED.] If, after notice and 
        a reasonable opportunity to respond, the court determines that 
        subdivision 2 has been violated, the court may, subject to the 
        conditions in this section, impose an appropriate sanction upon 
        the attorneys, law firms, or parties that have violated 
        subdivision 2 or are responsible for the violation. 
           Subd. 4.  [HOW INITIATED.] (a) A motion for sanctions under 
        this section must be made separately from other motions or 
        requests and describe the specific conduct alleged to violate 
        subdivision 2.  It must be served as provided under the rules of 
        civil procedure, but may not be filed with or presented to the 
        court unless, within 21 days after service of the motion, or 
        another period as the court may prescribe, the challenged paper, 
        claim, defense, contention, allegation, or denial is not 
        withdrawn or appropriately corrected.  If warranted, the court 
        may award to the party prevailing on the motion the reasonable 
        expenses and attorney's fees incurred in presenting or opposing 
        the motion.  Absent exceptional circumstances, a law firm is 
        jointly responsible for violations committed by its partners, 
        associates, and employees. 
           (b) On its own initiative, the court may enter an order 
        describing the specific conduct that appears to violate 
        subdivision 2 and directing an attorney, law firm, or party to 
        show cause why it has not violated subdivision 2 with respect to 
        that conduct. 
           Subd. 5.  [NATURE OF SANCTION; LIMITATIONS.] (a) A sanction 
        imposed for violation of this section must be limited to what is 
        sufficient to deter repetition of the conduct or comparable 
        conduct by others similarly situated.  Subject to the 
        limitations in paragraph (b), the sanction may consist of, or 
        include, directives of a nonmonetary nature, an order to pay a 
        penalty into court, or, if imposed on motion and warranted for 
        effective deterrence, an order directing payment to the movant 
        of some or all of the reasonable attorneys' fees and other 
        expenses incurred as a direct result of the violation. 
           (b) Monetary sanctions may not be awarded against a 
        represented party for a violation of subdivision 2, clause (2).  
        Monetary sanctions may not be awarded on the court's initiative 
        unless the court issues its order to show cause before a 
        voluntary dismissal or settlement of the claims made by or 
        against the party which is, or whose attorneys are, to be 
        sanctioned. 
           (c) When imposing sanctions, the court shall describe the 
        conduct determined to constitute a violation of this section and 
        explain the basis for the sanction imposed. 
           Subd. 6.  [APPLICATION; EFFECT ON OTHER SANCTIONS.] (a) 
        This section does not apply to disclosures and discovery 
        requests, responses, objections, and motions that are subject to 
        discovery provisions and remedies of the rules of civil 
        procedure. 
           (b) An order or award of sanctions under this section is 
        without prejudice and an alternative to sanctions that may be 
        asserted under the rules of civil procedure. 
                                   ARTICLE 2
                             CONFORMING AMENDMENTS
           Section 1.  Minnesota Statutes 1996, section 336.2A-108, is 
        amended to read: 
           336.2A-108 [UNCONSCIONABILITY.] 
           (1) If the court as a matter of law finds a lease contract 
        or any clause of a lease contract to have been unconscionable at 
        the time it was made, the court may refuse to enforce the lease 
        contract, or it may enforce the remainder of the lease contract 
        without the unconscionable clause, or it may so limit the 
        application of any unconscionable clause as to avoid any 
        unconscionable result. 
           (2) With respect to a consumer lease, if the court as a 
        matter of law finds that a lease contract or any clause of a 
        lease contract has been induced by unconscionable conduct or 
        that unconscionable conduct has occurred in the collection of a 
        claim arising from a lease contract, the court may grant 
        appropriate relief. 
           (3) Before making a finding of unconscionability under 
        subsection (1) or (2), the court, on its own motion or that of a 
        party, shall afford the parties a reasonable opportunity to 
        present evidence as to the setting, purpose, and effect of the 
        lease contract or clause, or of the conduct. 
           (4) In an action in which the lessee claims 
        unconscionability with respect to a consumer lease: 
           (a) If the court finds unconscionability under subsection 
        (1) or (2), the court may award reasonable attorney's fees to 
        the lessee. 
           (b) If the court does not find unconscionability, the court 
        may make an award under section 549.21 549.211 to the party 
        against whom the claim is made.  
           (c) In determining attorney's fees, the amount of the 
        recovery on behalf of the claimant under subsections (1) and (2) 
        is not controlling. 
           Sec. 2.  Minnesota Statutes 1996, section 566.25, is 
        amended to read: 
           566.25 [JUDGMENT.] 
           Upon finding the complaint proved, the court may, in its 
        discretion, do any or all of the following, either alone or in 
        combination: 
           (a) Order the owner to remedy the violation or violations 
        found by the court to exist if the court is satisfied that 
        corrective action will be undertaken promptly; or 
           (b) Order the tenant to remedy the violation or violations 
        found by the court to exist and deduct the cost from the rent 
        subject to the terms as the court determines to be just; or 
           (c) Appoint an administrator with powers as set out in 
        section 566.29, and 
           (1) direct that rents due: 
           (i) on and from the day of entry of judgment, in the case 
        of petitioning tenants or neighborhood organizations, and 
           (ii) on and from the day of service of the judgment on all 
        other tenants and commercial tenants of the building, if any, 
        shall be deposited with the administrator appointed by the 
        court, and 
           (2) direct that the administrator use the rents collected 
        for the purpose of remedying the violations found to exist by 
        the court paying the debt service, taxes and insurance, and 
        providing the services necessary to the ordinary operation and 
        maintenance of the building which the owner is obligated to 
        provide but fails or refuses to provide; or 
           (d) Find the extent to which any uncorrected violations 
        impair the tenants' use and enjoyment of the premises contracted 
        for and order the rent abated accordingly.  Should the court 
        choose to enter judgment under this paragraph the parties shall 
        be informed and the court shall find the amount by which the 
        rent shall be abated; 
           (e) After termination of administration, continue the 
        jurisdiction of the court over the building for a period of one 
        year and order the owner to maintain the building in compliance 
        with all applicable state, county, and city health, safety, 
        housing, building, fire prevention, and housing maintenance 
        codes; and 
           (f) Grant any other relief the court deems just and proper, 
        including a judgment against the owner for reasonable attorney 
        fees, not to exceed $500, in the case of a prevailing tenant or 
        neighborhood organization.  The $500 limitation does not apply 
        to awards made under section 549.21 549.211 or other specific 
        statutory authority.  
           Sec. 3.  Minnesota Statutes 1996, section 570.041, 
        subdivision 1, is amended to read: 
           Subdivision 1.  [AMOUNT AND CONDITION.] Before issuing any 
        order of attachment, the court shall require the claimant to 
        post a bond in the penal sum of at least $500, conditioned that 
        if judgment be given for the respondent or if the order is 
        vacated, the claimant will pay all costs that may be awarded 
        against the claimant and all damages caused by the attachment. 
        Damages may be awarded in a sum in excess of the bond only if, 
        before issuance of the order establishing the amount of the 
        bond, the respondent specifically notified the claimant and the 
        court of the likelihood that the respondent would suffer the 
        specific damages, or the court finds that the claimant acted in 
        bad faith in bringing or pursuing the attachment proceeding.  In 
        establishing the amount of the bond, the court shall consider 
        the value and nature of the property attached, the method of 
        retention or storage of the property, the potential harm to the 
        respondent or any party, and other factors that the court deems 
        appropriate.  Nothing in this section shall modify or restrict 
        the application of section 549.20 or 549.21 549.211. 
           Sec. 4.  Minnesota Statutes 1996, section 571.932, 
        subdivision 6, is amended to read: 
           Subd. 6.  [BONDING REQUIREMENT.] (a) Before issuing an 
        order of garnishment, the court shall require the creditor to 
        post a bond in the penal sum of at least $500, conditioned that 
        if judgment be given for the debtor or if the order is vacated, 
        the creditor will pay all costs that may be awarded against the 
        creditor and all damages caused by the garnishment.  Damages may 
        be awarded in a sum in excess of the bond only if, before the 
        issuance of the order establishing the amount of the bond, the 
        debtor specifically notified the creditor and the court of the 
        likelihood that the debtor would suffer the specific damages, or 
        the court finds that the creditor acted in bad faith in bringing 
        or pursuing the garnishment proceeding.  In establishing the 
        amount of the bond, the court shall consider the value and 
        nature of the property garnished, the method of retention or 
        storage of the property, the potential harm to the debtor or any 
        party, and other factors that the court considers appropriate.  
        Nothing in this section modifies or restricts the application of 
        section 549.20 or 549.21 549.211.  
           (b) The court may at any time modify the amount of the bond 
        upon its own motion or upon the motion of a party based on the 
        value of the property garnished, the nature of the property 
        attached, the methods of retention or storage of the property, 
        the potential harm to the debtor or a party, or other factor 
        that the court considers appropriate.  
           (c) In lieu of filing a bond, either the creditor or the 
        debtor may satisfy the bonding requirements by depositing cash, 
        an irrevocable letter of credit, a cashier's check, or a 
        certified check with the court. 
           Sec. 5.  Minnesota Statutes 1996, section 609.5314, 
        subdivision 3, is amended to read: 
           Subd. 3.  [JUDICIAL DETERMINATION.] (a) Within 60 days 
        following service of a notice of seizure and forfeiture under 
        this section, a claimant may file a demand for a judicial 
        determination of the forfeiture.  The demand must be in the form 
        of a civil complaint and must be filed with the court 
        administrator in the county in which the seizure occurred, 
        together with proof of service of a copy of the complaint on the 
        county attorney for that county, and the standard filing fee for 
        civil actions unless the petitioner has the right to sue in 
        forma pauperis under section 563.01.  If the value of the seized 
        property is less than $500, the claimant may file an action in 
        conciliation court for recovery of the seized property without 
        paying the conciliation court filing fee.  No responsive 
        pleading is required of the county attorney and no court fees 
        may be charged for the county attorney's appearance in the 
        matter.  The proceedings are governed by the rules of civil 
        procedure. 
           (b) The complaint must be captioned in the name of the 
        claimant as plaintiff and the seized property as defendant, and 
        must state with specificity the grounds on which the claimant 
        alleges the property was improperly seized and the plaintiff's 
        interest in the property seized.  Notwithstanding any law to the 
        contrary, an action for the return of property seized under this 
        section may not be maintained by or on behalf of any person who 
        has been served with a notice of seizure and forfeiture unless 
        the person has complied with this subdivision. 
           (c) If the claimant makes a timely demand for judicial 
        determination under this subdivision, the appropriate agency 
        must conduct the forfeiture under section 609.531, subdivision 
        6a. 
           (d) If a demand for judicial determination of an 
        administrative forfeiture is filed under this subdivision and 
        the court orders the return of the seized property, the court 
        shall order that filing fees be reimbursed to the person who 
        filed the demand.  In addition, the court may order the payment 
        of reasonable costs, expenses, and attorney fees sanctions under 
        section 549.21, subdivision 2 549.211.  If the court orders 
        payment of these costs, they must be paid from forfeited money 
        or proceeds from the sale of forfeited property from the 
        appropriate law enforcement and prosecuting agencies in the same 
        proportion as they would be distributed under section 609.5315, 
        subdivision 5. 
           Sec. 6.  [REPEALER.] 
           Minnesota Statutes 1996, section 549.21, is repealed. 
                                   ARTICLE 3
                              LIMITATIONS PERIODS
           Section 1.  Minnesota Statutes 1996, section 541.07, is 
        amended to read: 
           541.07 [TWO- OR THREE-YEAR LIMITATIONS.] 
           Except where the Uniform Commercial Code, this section, 
        section 148A.06, or section 541.073 otherwise prescribes, the 
        following actions shall be commenced within two years: 
           (1) for libel, slander, assault, battery, false 
        imprisonment, or other tort, resulting in personal injury, and 
        all actions against physicians, surgeons, dentists, occupational 
        therapists, other health care professionals as defined in 
        section 145.61, and veterinarians as defined in chapter 156, 
        hospitals, sanitariums, for malpractice, error, mistake or 
        failure to cure, whether based on contract or tort; provided a 
        counterclaim may be pleaded as a defense to any action for 
        services brought by a physician, surgeon, dentist, occupational 
        therapists, or other health care professional or veterinarian, 
        hospital or sanitarium, after the limitations herein described 
        notwithstanding it is barred by the provisions of this chapter, 
        if it was the property of the party pleading it at the time it 
        became barred and was not barred at the time the claim sued on 
        originated, but no judgment thereof except for costs can be 
        rendered in favor of the party so pleading it; 
           (2) upon a statute for a penalty or forfeiture, except as 
        provided in sections 541.074 and 541.075; 
           (3) for damages caused by a dam, other than a dam used for 
        commercial purposes; but as against one holding under the 
        preemption or homestead laws, the limitations shall not begin to 
        run until a patent has been issued for the land so damaged; 
           (4) against a master for breach of an indenture of 
        apprenticeship; the limitation runs from the expiration of the 
        term of service; 
           (5) for the recovery of wages or overtime or damages, fees 
        or penalties accruing under any federal or state law respecting 
        the payment of wages or overtime or damages, fees or penalties 
        except, that if the employer fails to submit payroll records by 
        a specified date upon request of the department of labor and 
        industry or if the nonpayment is willful and not the result of 
        mistake or inadvertence, the limitation is three years.  (The 
        term "wages" means all remuneration for services or employment, 
        including commissions and bonuses and the cash value of all 
        remuneration in any medium other than cash, where the 
        relationship of master and servant exists and the term "damages" 
        means single, double, or treble damages, accorded by any 
        statutory cause of action whatsoever and whether or not the 
        relationship of master and servant exists); 
           (6) for damages caused by the establishment of a street or 
        highway grade or a change in the originally established grade; 
           (7) against the person who applies the pesticide for injury 
        or damage to property resulting from the application, but not 
        the manufacture or sale, of a pesticide. 
           Sec. 2.  [EFFECTIVE DATE.] 
           Section 1 is effective August 1, 1997, and applies to 
        causes of action arising on or after that date. 
           Presented to the governor May 20, 1997 
           Signed by the governor May 22, 1997, 12:15 p.m.