quick facts

State Liability: The Minnesota Tort Claims Act

The Minnesota Tort Claims Act (“MTCA”) waives sovereign immunity “under circumstances where the state, if a private person, would be liable to the claimant.” 1 After this broad waiver of immunity, the MTCA enumerates exceptions, including for discretionary duties and for employees exercising due care in the execution of a statute or rule. 2 State officials enjoy the same statutory exceptions to liability as the State and are indemnified by the State for good-faith actions within the course of employment. 3 On top of this statutory immunity and indemnification, officials enjoy common-law “official immunity,” which protects them “(1) when a ministerial duty is either not performed or is performed negligently, or (2) when a willful or malicious wrong is committed.” 4 Minnesota courts generally extend official immunity vicariously to government entities when a government employee is immune, but this extension is not automatic. 5 Minnesota caps damages for claims against both the State and state employees for good-faith actions within the course of employment. 6

Municipal Liability

Minnesota’s statute governing municipal liability is structured in the same way as the state liability statute in that it waives immunity broadly before carving out a list of exceptions for which the municipality is not liable. 7 Municipal employees are indemnified for good-faith actions within the scope of their employment, and they enjoy the same kind of official immunity as state employees. 8 Liability is capped both for a municipality and for a municipal employee acting in good faith and within the scope of employment. 9