Victory for Minnesota Entrepreneurs

J. Justin Wilson
J. Justin Wilson · October 9, 2013

Arlington, Va.—Today, in a major victory for economic liberty, the Minnesota Second Judicial District relied on the Minnesota Constitution to strike down an irrational law that forced funeral-home entrepreneurs to waste $30,000 to $50,000 building useless embalming rooms in order to expand their businesses. Victorious plaintiff Verlin Stoll, owner of Crescent Tide Funeral Home in Saint Paul, teamed up with the Institute for Justice in 2012 to challenge the law in state court. The case went to trial last March.

The Honorable John H. Guthmann ruled that requiring funeral-home entrepreneurs to waste money building embalming rooms they do not need and will never use violates the Minnesota Constitution.

In his opinion, Judge Guthmann stated, “The embalming-room requirement, which would require Stoll to expend $30,000 or more to build a preparation and embalming room at any funeral establishment where no preparation and embalming is performed, constitutes an irrational exercise of the state’s police power.”


Verlin has built a successful funeral-home business by offering low-cost funerals while providing high-quality service. He wants to open a second location, but the now-invalid law required him to build another embalming room that he does not want, does not need and will never use. Verlin wants to invest in hiring new employees, building new facilities and lowering prices. The law protected the big, full-amenity funeral-home businesses from innovators like Verlin.

“Today’s decision affirms that the government cannot make people do useless things just to be in business and it is a victory for all entrepreneurs fighting arbitrary government regulations,” said IJ-Minnesota Attorney Katelynn McBride, lead counsel on the case.

“The court completely rejected Minnesota’s argument that the government can simply make up reasons for a law long after passing it,” said IJ Attorney Wesley Hottot. “This decision is a model of judicial engagement—the judge weighed the evidence and found that the law’s real-world impact on consumers and entrepreneurs required him to rule the law unconstitutional.”

“The result is great for us and I am confident it will also open doors for entrepreneurs in other areas who are crushed by pointless requirements in their industries,” said Verlin Stoll.

“This victory is part of the Institute for Justice’s nationwide effort to defend the constitutional right to earn an honest living,” said Jeff Rowes, an IJ senior attorney.

Defendant Minnesota Department of Health has sixty days to file an appeal with the Minnesota Court of Appeals

Founded in 1991, the Virginia-based Institute for Justice is the national law firm for liberty.