Briggs Attorney Discusses Minnesota’s Adoption of the Filed Rate Doctrine

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May 6, 2008

Briggs and Morgan associate Kevin M. Decker authors "Filed Rate Doctrine: Leaving Regulation to the Regulators" in Volume 34, Issue 4 of the William Mitchell Law Review.

Of key focus in Decker’s article is the recent Minnesota Supreme Court decision to formally adopt the “filed rate doctrine,” which protects regulated industries—such as railroad, utilities, insurance and telecommunications companies—from lawsuits that implicate the services and charges of such businesses.

In short, government agencies or commissions approve tariffs for regulated industries that specify allowable rates and services; a lawsuit challenging a rate or service is precluded because in resolving the complaint, the court “would necessarily have to second-guess the decisions of the agency to whom the legislature has delegated the responsibility to approve rates,” according to Schermer v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Co., 721 N.W.2d 307 (Minn. 2006).

“In the years ahead, regulated defendants will seek to realize the doctrine’s ample protections, while plaintiffs will endeavor to define its limitations,” Decker concludes. The battle will next be waged in Hoffman v. Northern States Power Co., 743 N.W.2d 751 (Minn. Ct. App. 2008), review granted (Minn. Apr. 15, 2008), an appeal in which the utility is represented by Briggs.

Decker’s law review article provides historical perspective, an analysis of key filed rate cases in Minnesota, and a forecast of the road ahead. To read the full article, click here.