2011 Minnesota Legislative Update
On May 22, 2011, the Minnesota Legislature passed Senate Bill 1159 by a vote of 126 – 4. It will enact various Workers’ Compensation Advisory Council recommendations.
Case Law Updates
Parales-Rodriguez v. ERMC, WCCA, 4/1/11 ~ Reviewed by Nicole Kampa
The WCCA affirmed in part and vacated in part the findings of the Compensation Judge on Roraff Fees. The Compensation Judge awarded Roraff fees and determined it was not premature despite continued payment of wage loss benefits from which contingent attorney fees were being withheld. The WCCA agreed with the employer and insurer that Roraff fees were premature as it was impossible to determine at the time of hearing either the amount of benefits ultimately to be recovered for the employee or the exact amount of any contingent fee since the employee continued to receive wage loss benefits from which contingent fees were being withheld. The Court reminded the parties that an Irwin analysis requires parties to know of the amount involved, results obtained and amount of the contingent fee at the time of hearing.
Chronic Pain Program
Griffin v. Kindred Hospitals, WCCA, 4/4/11 ~ Reviewed by Nicole Kampa
The WCCA held that the Compensation Judge erred in finding treatment received at a pain center was closed out under a prior stipulation for settlement. In the present case a prior stipulation for settlement closed out medical expenses in the nature of “multi-dimensional in-patient and out-patient chronic pain treatment programs.” The WCCA held that the treatment received in the present case did not meet all mandatory requirements of Minnesota Rules 5221.6600, subpart 2.E. defining multidisciplinary chronic pain management programs. Careful attention to language in a stipulation for settlement may help ensure a complete close-out of all desired medical expenses.
Johnson v. McDowall Companies,WCCA, 4/12/11 ~ Reviewed by Nicole Kampa
The WCCA affirmed the Compensation Judge’s denial of a motion for joinder on grounds it would delay an expedited hearing and was not necessary for resolution of the claims. The WCCA held a motion to join a subsequent employer and insurer that was filed the week before an expedited hearing would have delayed the hearing. The employer was not prejudiced since the Court found it could assert a contribution claim in a subsequent proceeding. The WCCA also held the Compensation Judge’s factual conclusions concerning competing medical opinions was not clearly erroneous as a matter of law.