The MMA advocates for Minnesota physicians in the courts through amicus curiae briefs. Amicus curiae, or “friend of the court,” legal briefs allow the MMA to intervene in court cases of particular importance to Minnesota physicians. 

Amicus curiae briefs, paired with MMA’s legislative advocacy work, are an effective tool to help make Minnesota the healthiest state in the nation and the best place to practice medicine. The MMA’s most influential amicus curiae briefs are summarized below.




Legal questions at issue

How did the MMA advocate for Minnesota physicians?

Amicus Brief

2023 Rygwall vs. ACR Homes

Whether Minnesota’s longstanding precedent that an expert witness in a medical malpractice case present evidence sufficient to establish that it was more probable than not that negligence was the cause of death or injury is appropriate. In this case specifically, whether the expert witness for Rygwall failed to establish that it was more probable than not that ACR’s negligence caused Rygwall’s death without requiring speculation on the part of the jury as to the appropriate alternative treatment or action.

The MMA, AMA, and MHA filed an amicus brief explaining why endorsing Rygwall’s position and allowing causation to be determined by speculation would have damaging, real-world consequences. Coming soon
2021 David Smits vs. Park Nicollet Health Services Whether a healthcare facility and its physicians have a duty to protect a patient from self-harm, even if they are not in their custody, and whether the same have a duty to protect a patient’s family from the violent acts of a patient absent a custodial relationship, history of violence, or threats of violence. 
 The MMA and MHA submitted a brief explaining how this significant expansion of liability would negatively impact the mental health system in Minnesota. Link
2021 Heights Apartments, LLC and Walnut Trails, LLLP vs. Tim Walz and Keith Ellison  Whether the Governor’s Executive Order declaring a moratorium on evictions during the public health emergency is constitutional The MMA and AMA supported the constitutionality of the eviction moratorium by explaining how these moratoriums help stem the spread of COVID-19 by making it possible for families to comply with public health guidelines such as social distancing and quarantining, as well as keeping families in their homes and out of crowded shelters.
2020 RJ Reynolds v. City of Edina Whether a city ordinance prohibiting the sale of flavored tobacco products is preempted by the Tobacco Control Act (TCA) The MMA joined 24 other public health and anti-tobacco organizations in supporting the long-standing precedent that a local government can regulate the sale of tobacco products to protect their communities. The MMA also illustrated that Edina’s ordinance is not a “product standard” subject to preemption by the TCA.
2018 Warren v. Dinter Whether a physician can be held liable for medical malpractice for providing a “curbside consultation” to an independent practitioner.
By emphasizing the importance of collaboration among care teams and advocating against expanding malpractice liability for physicians. Link


Howard v. Svoboda

Whether informal patient-physician discussions are considered privileged in terms of possible medical malpractice action.

By emphasizing the importance of open and frank communication during medical malpractice informal conferences.



Staff of Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center v. Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center

Whether medical staff bylaws constitute a contract between an employer and medical staff.

Whether the medical staff of an employer has legal capacity, as a group, to sue or be sued.

By advocating for the right of medical staff to control patient care and be included in changes to medical staff bylaws.



In re: Tschumy

Whether court approval is required before a court-appointed guardian may remove a ward from life-sustaining treatment when all of the interested parties agree that such removal is in the ward’s best interest.

By warning that mandatory judicial involvement in medical decisions is inappropriate and emphasizing that physician oversight of end-of-life issues is best for patients.



Dickhoff v. Green

Whether Minnesota law allows a patient to recover damages when a physician’s negligence causes the patient to lose a chance of recovery or survival.

By arguing that Minnesota should continue to reject the loss-of-chance doctrine and that the medical profession should not be treated worse than other professions under tort law.



Mayo v. Prometheus

Whether medical applications of naturally-occurring bodily processes can be patented.

By explaining that similar patents could suppress innovation in personalized medicine and undermine the ethical obligations owed to patients by physicians.



Owatonna Clinic v. The Medical Protective Company of Fort Wayne, Indiana

Whether the enclosure of a Notice of Conference from the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice constituted adequate notice under the claims-made medical malpractice policy of The Medical Protective Company of Fort Wayne, Indiana.

By arguing that strict compliance with a claims-made insurance policy would jeopardize the confidentiality of patient information.



Losen v. Allina

Whether an examiner may face civil or criminal liability under the Minnesota Commitment and Treatment Act following a good-faith determination that a proposed patient does not meet the statutory criteria for an emergency hold.

By advocating that Minnesota physicians should be protected under the immunity provision of Minnesota Civil Commitment Act.



In re: Buckmaster

Whether an agreement for corrective action between a practitioner and a health-related licensing board is considered a settlement agreement barred from admission under Minnesota statute.

By urging the court to continue to encourage settlements and protect the purpose of Minnesota health licensing boards.



MacRae v. Group Health, Inc.

Whether the statute of limitations, for purposes of a medical malpractice suit based on a wrongful death claim, begins to accrue at the date of misdiagnosis or when it is more probable than not that the plaintiff will not survive.

By advocating preventing an unjustifiable extension of the medical-malpractice statute of limitation.



Becker v. Mayo Foundation

Whether the Minnesota Child Abuse Reporting Act (also known as the Maltreatment of Minors Act) creates a cause of action for failure to report suspected child abuse.

Whether a hospital that treats a child owes that child a special duty to protect him or her from future harm.

Whether there is a common law cause of action for failure to report suspected child abuse in Minnesota.

By urging the court to not increase legal liability for physicians who care for victims of child abuse and not extend the definition of “special relationship” to patients who have not been admitted to the hospital.



Larson v. Wasemiller

Whether Minnesota recognizes a common-law cause of action of negligent credentialing or privileging of a physician against a hospital or other review organization.

By urging the court to protect Minnesota’s successful peer review system and ensure that medical malpractice law focuses on the most relevant standard of care.



Molloy v. Meier

Whether a physician who undertakes tests and diagnoses a genetic disorder in an existing child owes a duty of care to the biological parents of the child when it is reasonably foreseeable that the parents would be injured if the testing and diagnosis are negligently performed.

By arguing that physicians’ legal obligations should not be expanded to include a legal duty to non-patients.



In re: the Matter of the Petition of the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice to Enforce Subpoena Regarding Dr. L.

Whether the statutory peer review privilege protects all documents contained in peer review files from subpoena.

By protecting physician peer review information from subpoena by the Minnesota State Board of Medical Practice.



Minnesota v. Andring

To what extent patient group psychotherapy records may be disclosed for the purposes of conducting a child maltreatment investigation.

By emphasizing the importance of privileged communications between physicians and patients and urging the court to only waive this privilege in narrow circumstances to provide a foundation for investigation.