In a dispute over whether a defendant could claim immunity from being sued, the Minnesota Supreme Court recently relied upon a principle of grammar to determine the meaning of the word “or” in the applicable statute. The Court deployed the terms “conjunctively” and “disjunctively” to explain its decision, and the cases cited in the Court’s opinion show that legal disputes concerning the meaning of “or” arise with some frequency — which means “conjunctively” and “disjunctively” are apt to recur as well. What, exactly, do these grammar terms mean?
The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled on April 6, 2016, that a parishioner could not sue her former church and pastors for defamation in statements made within church disciplinary proceedings to excommunicate the parishioner from the church. The explosive mix of high-profile issues present in the case obscures a smaller technical point which may prove crucial in a completely different context when some future litigant advances an abstention argument.
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