Foster v. State of Minnesota et al
ORDER granting 8 Motion to Dismiss (Written Opinion) Signed by Senior Judge David S. Doty on 12/21/2016. (DLO)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF MINNESOTA
Civil No. 16-2561(DSD/KMM)
Sheila Foster,on behalf of herself
and all others similarly situated,
State of Minnesota, Lori Swanson,
in her official capacity as Minnesota
General, and Myron Frans, in his
official capacity as Commissioner of
Minnesota Management and Budget,
Patrick W. Michenfelder, Esq. and Throndset Michenfelder Law
Office, LLC, One Central Avenue West, Suite 203, St. Michael,
MN 55376, and Daniel C. Hedlund, Esq. and Gustafson Gluek,
PLLC, 120 South Sixth Street, Suite 2600, Minneapolis, MN
55402, counsel for plaintiff.
Oliver J. Larson, Minnesota Attorney General’s Office, 445
Minnesota Street, Suite 1800, St. Paul, MN 55101, counsel for
This matter is before the court upon the motion to dismiss by
defendants. Based on a review of the file, record, and proceedings
herein, and for the following reasons, the motion is granted.
Foster’s claim that she is entitled to a share of the proceeds from
the settlement between the State of Minnesota and various tobacco
In 1994, the state, through its attorney general, and
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, sued Philip Morris and
consumer protection statutes.
Id. ¶ 15.
Compl. ¶¶ 13-14.
In 1998, the
The settlement agreement, in part,
required the tobacco companies to pay the state over $100 million
each year in perpetuity.
In turn, the state agreed to release
“all claims of the State of Minnesota relating to the subject
matter of th[e] action which have been or could have been asserted
by the State of Minnesota.”1
Id. ¶ 17.
There is no indication in
the record, nor do the parties contend, that any portion of the
settlement proceeds has ever been distributed to individuals.
Rather, the settlement payments are deposited into the state’s
general fund, which is managed by Minnesota Management and Budget.
Id. ¶ 16.
In 2011, the National Cancer Institute announced that “light”
cigarettes are as unhealthy as regular cigarettes. Id. ¶ 19. Soon
consumers by falsely marketing “light” cigarettes as a safer
alternative to regular cigarettes.
Id. ¶¶ 20-22.
court certified the class, but later granted summary judgment to
The court will refer to the settlement as the “1998
released and barred the class claims.
813 N.W.2d 891, 897 (Minn. 2012).
Curtis v. Atria Grp., Inc.,
The Minnesota Court of Appeals
affirmed the class certification, but reversed the grant of summary
The Minnesota Supreme Court then reversed the
latter determination, agreeing with the district court that the
1998 Settlement Agreement released and barred the claims.
The court dismissed the complaint in its entirety and held
that the issue of whether the district court properly certified the
class was moot.
In February 2014, Sheila Foster - named plaintiff in this case
- and Kristen Harne filed a class action complaint in Ramsey County
Commissioner of Minnesota Management and Budget. Compl. Ex. B. In
that case, which the court will refer to as Harne to avoid
confusion, the plaintiffs alleged that because their claims were
determined in Curtis, the defendants owe them a portion of the
Id. ¶¶ 27-29, 32.
The Harne plaintiffs
constituted a taking of private property without just compensation
under the Minnesota Constitution and the Fifth Amendment of the
United States Constitution.
Id. ¶¶ 44-61.
The district court
dismissed the case, concluding that the claims were time barred and
that, in any event, no taking had occurred.
Compl. Ex. C.
Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed on the basis of the statute of
limitations and the Minnesota Supreme Court denied review.
Exs. D, E.
On July 28, 2016, Foster filed the instant case on behalf of
herself and other similarly situated against the same defendants
named in Harne.2
Foster’s allegations are nearly identical to
those she raised in Harne, but here she only brings a claim under
the Fifth Amendment.
Defendants now move to dismiss.
Standard of Review
To survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim,
“‘a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as
true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.’”
Braden v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 588 F.3d 585, 594 (8th Cir. 2009)
(quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)).
has facial plausibility when the plaintiff [has pleaded] factual
content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that
the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
U.S. at 678 (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556
Although a complaint need not contain detailed factual
Only the name of the Commissioner of Minnesota Management
and Budget has changed. During Harne, James Schowalter was the
Commissioner, but he has since been replaced by Myron Frans. This
change has no substantive effect on the matter before the court.
allegations, it must raise a right to relief above the speculative
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
“[L]abels and conclusions or a
formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action” are not
sufficient to state a claim.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citation and
internal quotation marks omitted).
The court does not consider matters outside the pleadings
under Rule 12(b)(6).
Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(d).
The court may,
however, consider matters of public record and materials that are
“necessarily embraced by the pleadings.”
Porous Media Corp. v.
Pall Corp., 186 F.3d 1077, 1079 (8th Cir. 1999) (citation and
internal quotation marks omitted).
Defendants argue that Foster’s previous state court lawsuit
bars her from pursuing her claim in federal court.
agrees. Res judicata “precludes the relitigation of a claim on any
grounds raised before or on any grounds which could have been
raised in the prior action.”
Poe v. John Deere Co., 695 F.2d 1103,
1105 (8th Cir. 1982). The preclusive effect of a prior state court
judgment is determined by state law.
Egge v. Healthspan Servs.
Co., 115 F. Supp. 2d 1126, 1129 (D. Minn. 2000).
law, the disposition of an earlier claim constitutes a res judicata
bar against the litigation of a subsequent claim where (1) the
earlier claim involved the same set of factual circumstances; (2)
the earlier claim involved the same parties or their privies; (3)
there was a final judgment on the merits; and (4) the estopped
party had a full and fair opportunity to litigate the matter.”
Laase v. Cty. of Isanti, 638 F.3d 853, 856 (8th Cir. 2011)
(internal quotation and citation omitted).
All of the elements of res judicata are present here.
involved identical issues and parties.
Foster also acknowledges
that the state court’s determination that her claim was time barred
constitutes a final judgment on the merits.
Nor is there any
opportunity to litigate the state case.
She now contends that
Harne only involved her state-law inverse condemnation claim and
that her present claim under the Fifth Amendment did not become
ripe until Harne concluded. But she raised a Fifth Amendment claim
in Harne, and the state court dismissed that claim as untimely
along with her other claims.
C; id. Ex. D.
See Compl. Ex. B ¶¶ 6, 53-61; id. Ex.
As a result, res judicata bars Foster’s claim.
III. Statute of Limitations
Foster brings her Fifth Amendment claim under 28 U.S.C.
Because § 1983 does not include a limitations period, the
court must apply “the most appropriate or analogous state statute
of limitations.” Egerdahl v. Hibbing Cmty. Coll., 72 F.3d 615, 617
(8th Cir. 1995) (quoting Goodman v. Lukens Steel Co., 482 U.S. 656,
There appears to be no dispute that Minnesota’s six-
year general statute of limitations, which applies to state takings
claims, is the most analogous limitations period.
See Minn. Stat.
§ 541.05, subdiv. 1(4) (“[T]he following actions shall be commenced
within six years ... [actions] for taking, detaining, or injuring
personal property, including actions for the specific recovery
thereof....”); see also Beer v. Minn. Power & Light Co., 400 N.W.2d
732, 736 (Minn. 1987) (applying § 541.05 to takings claim). Foster
urges the court to hold that the limitations period did not
commence until the Minnesota Supreme Court denied review in Harne.
Foster argues that her federal takings claim was not ripe, and
therefore did not begin to run, until she was denied relief by the
state courts. The court disagrees. Even assuming Foster could not
have brought her Fifth Amendment claim in federal court until her
state court case concluded unsuccessfully, the limitations period
still expired in 2004, six years after the settlement and twelve
years before she brought this suit.
In Harne, the Minnesota Court of Appeals held that the sixyear limitations period began to run in 1998, when the state
settled with the tobacco companies and “extinguished [Foster’s]
Compl. Ex. D at 4.
rejected the argument that the claimants were unaware - and could
not have been aware - of their takings claim until the Minnesota
Supreme Court’s 2012 decision in Curtis.
The court will not
revisit that determination and is, in fact, collaterally estopped
from doing so.
Under the doctrine of collateral estoppel, “[w]hen an issue of
fact or law is actually litigated and determined by a valid and
final judgment, and the determination is essential to the judgment,
the determination is conclusive in a subsequent action between the
parties, whether on the same or a different claim.”
Twin City Pipe
Trades Serv. Ass’n, Inc. v. Wenner Quality Servs., Inc., No. 14292, 2015 WL 5165350, at *3 (D. Minn. Sept. 3, 2015).
of collateral estoppel are satisfied here.
This case involves the
same parties and issues as Harne, which proceeded to final judgment
on the very issue before the court.
Although the Harne court did
not undertake a separate analysis with respect to the timeliness of
the state and federal claims, its failure to do so does not
undermine the preclusive effect of its determination because, as
noted, the limitations period is the same for the state and federal
As defendants aptly state, Foster “cannot resurrect a
Defs.’ Reply Mem. at 5; see also Saathoff v. Whelan, 81 F.3d 169,
1996 WL 131710, at *2 (9th Cir. Mar. 21, 1996) (refusing to create
It may well be that if Foster had brought a timely statelaw claim, her federal takings claim would have been tolled pending
the outcome of the state case. Here, however, Foster’s state-law
claim was untimely.
She cites to no authority to support her
theory that her federal claim can be resurrected under these
a rule that would allow a plaintiff to wait to bring an inverse
limitations grounds, and restart the limitations period for federal
Foster also argues that the limitations period has not yet
expired because there are future payments due under the 1998
This argument was also rejected in Harne by the Minnesota
Court of Appeals, which concluded that “the particular method of
purported taking is the settlement itself, which extinguished
Id. at 5.
revisiting the issue.
Again, the court is estopped from
As a result, dismissal of Foster’s claim is
warranted as untimely.4
Accordingly, based on above, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that:
The motion to dismiss [ECF No. 8] is granted; and
The case is dismissed with prejudice.
LET JUDGMENT BE ENTERED ACCORDINGLY.
Dated: December 21, 2016
s/David S. Doty
David S. Doty, Judge
United States District Court
The court declines to consider the remaining issues raised
by defendants given the disposition of the case.
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?