November 30, 2017

Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure

The ABA is urging the Supreme Court of Minnesota to amend the Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure by adopting proposed amendments recommended by the Minnesota State Bar Association (MSBA) to require that 50 percent of unclaimed, undistributed funds in state class action lawsuits be donated to legal services organizations. The recommendation would amend Rule 23 and create a new Rule 23.11. In a Nov. 17 letter to AnnMarie O’Neill, clerk of appellate courts in Minnesota, ABA President Hilarie Bass noted that 22 states have such a rule and 13 of those states devote a percentage of all class action residual awards to civil legal aid organizations. ABA policy adopted in 2016 urges state, local, territorial and tribal jurisdictions to adopt court rules or legislation authorizing the awards of class action residual fund to non-profit organizations that improve access to civil justice for persons living in poverty. The policy specifies that before class action residual funds are awarded to charitable non-profit or other organizations, all reasonable efforts should be made to fully compensate members of the class, or a determination should be made that such payments are not feasible. Bass emphasized that, according to the report accompanying the ABA policy, legal aid organizations are appropriate recipients of class action residual funds, as long as the premise of expanding access to justice is properly articulated. The court’s Advisory Committee on the Rules of Civil Procedure has recommended against adoption of the amendment, and a Dec. 19 hearing has been scheduled on this proposal and other amendments proposed by the MSBA that are intended to bring several rules into conformity with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. 

 

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