Case Details


Common Law Powers, Control Of Litigation

Filing State



Minnesota Court of Appeals




State of Minnesota by Hatch vs. American Family Mutual Insurance Co., 609 N.W.2d 1 (Minn. Ct. App. 2000).


Attorney General has common law powers, those powers are plenary, beyond control of any other state agency or officer.

Case Description

Minnesota Attorney General sued an insurance company alleging violations of consumer protection laws and insurance trade practice regulations. The defendant argued that the Attorney General did not have the authority to bring an action against the insurance company. The court of appeals held, “As the chief law officer of the state, the attorney general possesses all of the powers inherent in that office at common law.” The court also noted, “the attorney general’s discretion to bring suit is plenary and is beyond the control of any other state department or officer.” The commerce department, which regulates insurance, does not have exclusive authority to bring cases against insurance companies, because the statutes do not provide such exclusive authority and the existence of a broad regulatory scheme does not necessarily constrain the authority of others.