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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Fighting like Petersons and Johnsons

As if it was not enough to have three “Justice Andersons” serving on the Minnesota Supreme Court (Russell, Paul and G. Barry, in case you’ve lost count), I recently uncovered more evidence that a severe shortage of surnames continues to plague the state.

Flipping through the handful of published Court of Appeals opinions last week, I happened to come across an interesting decision on negligent hiring. When I pulled up the case to take a second look, I was surprised to find that the court opinion in front of me involved a homeowner’s suit against a builder over construction defects, not negligent hiring.

After a few moments of frustration, I was able to clear up the basis of my confusion. The negligent-hiring case was named Johnson v. Peterson, while the homeowners’ case was named Peterson v. Johnson. They were two completely different cases for which the Court of Appeals issued published decisions simultaneously.

Lest you think I extrapolate too far in arguing that this demonstrates Minnesota is last-name deprived, the Court of Appeals this week also issued a published opinion on the assumption-of-the risk doctrine. The name of that decision? Peterson v. Donahue. I assume Johnson took the day off.

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