Minn. Senate approves limits on liability lawsuits

The Minnesota Senate has passed several bills, backed by the business community, that would restrict the rights of plaintiffs who file civil lawsuits.

One of the bills would shorten the statute of limitations for filing civil lawsuits from six years to four years. Another measure would create an automatic court appeal to all certifications of class action lawsuits.

Sen. Julianne Ortman, R-Chanhassen, said the changes would make the courts more efficient and will reduce court costs for businesses.

"Minnesotans have asked us to look at this. Businesses from all over the state, including 58,000 of them, have asked us to make some reasonable reforms so they can manage their liability, so we can have swift access to justice," said Ortman.

But Sen. Ron Latz, DFL-St. Louis Park, questioned the need for such changes.

"Civil filings have been down 40 percent in the last 10 years in Minnesota, even without any of this statute of limitations reform," said Latz. "There is no litigation abuse or no explosion of litigation in Minnesota that this needs to address."

The House and Senate are meeting in rare Saturday sessions today. They have nine days left in the legislative session.