Attorney at Law Magazine – Twin Cities Edition
Author: Norm Baer
In late October, federal inmate number 14170-041 explained to Judge Richard Kyle that he was, in fact, guilty of engaging in a massive Ponzi scheme and apologized for his prior false claims of innocence.
Tom Petters finally saw the light and was trying to reduce his sentence. Similarly, Lance Armstrong confessed and asked the public to forgive him when the doping charges he had vehemently denied for years could no longer be avoided. Those are two extreme examples of pleading in the alternative – a practice that is expressly allowed in civil proceedings.
A party may “set forth two or more statements of a claim or defense alternatively or hypothetically… A party may also state as many separate claims or defenses as the party has regardless of consistency and whether based on legal or equitable grounds or both.” Minn. R. Civ. P. 8.05(b). However, when pleading in the alternative, “[a]ll statements shall be made subject to the obligations set forth in Rule 11.” Rule 8.05 has a second, implicit limitation that the practitioner should bear in mind – pleading in the alternative should be limited by the very real need for credibility.