In a recent case, the Eighth Circuit, following the lead of other courts interpreting Minnesota law, hinted that a plaintiff may not be able to pursue an unjust-enrichment claim if a statutory cause of action is available. It did so by calling unjust enrichment an equitable remedy and invoking the “irreparable injury rule,” which states that a plaintiff may not have an equitable remedy if an adequate legal remedy—in this situation, a statute—is available. Numerous other courts have followed similar logic. This Note explores the foundations of unjust enrichment and the Minnesota case law to show that this reasoning is flawed. It then touches on how other states handle similar claims, suggests that courts invoking the irreparable injury rule in this manner may have other motivations, and posits that statutory language and policy should determine whether an unjust-enrichment claim is crowded out by a statute.
Columbia Law Review HEY, THAT’S CHEATING! THE MISUSE OF THE IRREPARABLE INJURY RULE AS A SHORTCUT TO PRECLUDE UNJUST-ENRICHMENT CLAIMS