State News : Minnesota

NWCDN is a network of law firms dedicated to protecting employers in workers’ compensation claims.

NWCDN Members regularly post articles and summary judgements in workers’ compensations law in your state.  

Select a state from the dropdown menu below to scroll through the state specific archives for updates and opinions on various workers’ compensation laws in your state.

Contact information for NWCDN members is also located on the state specific links in the event you have additional questions or your company is seeking a workers’ compensation lawyer in your state.


Heacox Hartman





Minn. Stat. § 176.081, subdivision 1c has been amended to state that fees under the chapter are “available to an attorney who procures a benefit on behalf of the employee” upon genuinely disputed claims or portions of claims. However, unless the employee is represented by an attorney in other litigation pending at the Office of Administrative Hearings, a fee may not be charged for services with respect to a medical or rehabilitation issue performed before the attorney has filed with the commissioner and served upon the employer/insurer (and their attorney, if any) “a request for certification of dispute containing the name of the employer and its insurer, the date of the injury, and a description of the benefits claimed” and the department certifies that there is a dispute and that it has tried to resolve the dispute.

If the department has not issued a determination of whether a dispute exists within 30 days of the filing of a request, the dispute shall be certified if all the following apply:

(1)    the insurer has not approved the requested benefit;

(2)    the employee, the employee's attorney, or the employee's treating provider has submitted any and all additional information requested by the insurer necessary to determine whether the requested benefit is disputed or approved; and

(3)    the insurer has had at least seven calendar days to review any additional information submitted.

Non-Emergency Surgery Disputes

If an employer/insurer has requested a second opinion (pursuant to 176.135) or an examination (pursuant to 176.155), a dispute shall be certified if 45 days have passed following a written request for a second opinion or examination, if the three conditions enumerated above are met as well. Cross-reference the amendments to Minn. Stat. 176.135, subdivision 1a for further details on procedures for second opinions on requests for non-emergency surgeries, as discussed below.



Minn. Stat. § 176.135, Subdivision 1(d) was amended to specify that any “artificial members, glasses or spectacles, artificial eyes, podiatric orthotics, dental bridge work, dentures or artificial teeth, hearing aids, canes, crutches, or wheel chairs” that had been customized specifically for an injured worker are the property of the injured worker. If any of these items


were damaged by reason of an injury arising out of and in the course of the employment, the employer shall furnish their replacement or repair. An employer/insurer’s inability or refusal to timely provide these items, will make it liable for the reasonable expense incurred by or on behalf of the employee in providing them.



Minn. Stat. 176.135, subdivision 1a(a) was amended to specify that if an employer or insurer requires an employee to get a second opinion before undergoing an non-emergency surgery, the expense of that second opinion shall be paid by the employer or the insurer (the previous language only mentioned the employer).

Language stating that “the failure to obtain a second surgical opinion shall not be reason for nonpayment of the charges for the surgery. The employer is required to pay the reasonable value of the surgery unless the commissioner or compensation judge determines that the surgery is not reasonably required” has now been removed from the statute. The new language states that if an employer or insurer receives a request for non-emergency surgery, it must respond in writing no later than seven calendar days after receiving the request from the health provider or the employee either: approving the request, asking for additional information, requesting a second opinion, or requesting an examination by a physician chosen by the employer (under 176.155).

Subdivision 1a(b) has now been added to the statute. It states that if the employer or insurer requests a second opinion, it must notify the employee and the health care provider of this request within seven calendar days of the request for non-emergency surgery. If the authorization of the non-emergency surgery is denied within seven calendar days of receiving the second opinion, the health care provider may elect to perform the surgery, subject to a determination of compensability by the commissioner or compensation judge.

Subdivision 1a(c) has also been added. It states that “failure to obtain a second surgical opinion is not reason for nonpayment of the charges for the surgery. The employer or insurer is required to pay the reasonable value of the surgery unless the commissioner or compensation judge determines that the surgery is not reasonably required.”



Minn. Stat. § 176.135, subdivision 7 has undergone significant amendments, mostly limiting the dollar amounts that health care providers can charge for their records.

Paragraph (a) has added language specifying that health care providers may charge for copies of their records or reports pursuant to Minnesota Rules, part 5219.0300, and directs the commissioner to adopt, by rule, a schedule of reasonable charges that will apply to charges not addressed by paragraphs (d) and (e) (see below).




Paragraph (d) was added to the subdivision, it provides that:

(1)   Health care providers must notify requestors of the estimated cost before sending copies of records. If the requestor approves the costs and record copies are provided, the payment due is the applicable fee under paragraph (e) (see below);

(2)   Health care providers shall not require prepayment for the costs of copies unless there is an outstanding past-due invoice for the requestor for previous records requests;

(3)   Health care providers shall provide copies of medical records in electronic format;

(4)   The charges scheduled under paragraph (e) includes fees for retrieval, downloading, or other delivery of records;

Paragraph (e) then provides the following limits for how much a health care provider may charge for any records provided under paragraph (d):

1.     No more than $10 if there are no records available;

2.     No more than $30 for records of up to 25 pages;

3.     No more than $50 for records of up to 100 pages;

4.     No more than $50, plus and additional 20 cents per page for pages 101 and above; or

5.     No more than $500 total for any request.



Minn. Stat. § 176.155, subdivision 1 was amended, largely to provide further parameters regarding requests for extension of time for file I.M.E. reports. Paragraph (a) added language allowing employees to have a “witness” present at any examinations performed that the request of the employer (previously the paragraph only allowed employees to have “a personal physician” present at their own expense).

Paragraph (b) removed language providing that IME reports must be made available to the employee or employee’s representative upon request, and now states that: regardless of whether litigation is pending, the report must be served upon the employee and employee’s attorney no later than 14 days within the issuance of the report or written statement.

Paragraph (d) states that “any request for a good cause extension pursuant to paragraph (e) must be made within 120 days of service of the claim petition” with the following exceptions:

1.       There has been a change to the employee’s claim regarding the nature and extent of the injury;

2.       There has been a change to the permanency benefits claimed by the employee, including a change in permanent partial disability percentage;

3.       There is a new claim for indemnity benefits; or

4.       The employment relationship is not admitted by an uninsured employer.





176.239, subdivision 6 was amended to state that “only reasons specified on the notice of discontinuance shall provide a basis for a discontinuance, unless the parties agree otherwise,” striking the word “information” from that sentence. This appears to indicate that

.239 conferences will be decided much more on just the four corners of the reasons provided on Box 3 Notices of Intent to Discontinue, and that Employer/Insurers may not be able to rely on providing additional information or arguments not previously raise in the discontinuance notice at the time of the conference.

However, subdivision 7 adds the term “exhibits filed by the parties with the office” to “information provided by the parties at the administrative conference” as the information to be considered in issuing administrative decisions on .239 conferences.



176.291 has been amended, apparently to require greater specificity and documentary support in Claim Petitions, especially those asserting multiple claims. Under paragraph (b) the petition shall state and include: the extent and character of each injury; copies of medical records supporting each claim asserted; copies of other information in support of the claim, witness information for all known witnesses to be called in support of each injury and claim; the nature and extent of each claim.

Paragraph (c) now allows “incomplete” petitions to be stricken or dismissed from the calendar pursuant to 176.305, subd. 4. Further, an employee who has filed a claim petition shall provide a list of their physicians and health care providers who have provided treatment for same/similar conditions as well as authorizations for relevant information, data, and records within 14 days to any requester (previously it was 30 days).



176.305, subdivision 4 now allows a compensation judge, upon a properly served motion, to strike a case from the active trial calendar after the employee has been given 30 days to correct a deficient petition if the information on the petition was incomplete (see the amendments to 176.291 above). If a case has been stricken from the calendar for 180 days (previously, it was 1 year) or more and no corrective action has been taken, the judge may dismiss the case (sua sponte, or upon the motion of a party). The petitioner must be given 30 days notice of the proposed dismissal before the dismissal is effective.





In an apparent move to provide a bit of a “speedbump” for a full-blown hearing on a short turn-around time, 176.331 was amended to have OAH set the matter for an immediate pretrial conference and hearing when an adverse party fails to file and serve an answer or obtain an extension to answer. The adverse party that failed to file and answer or appear at a pretrial conference may appear at the hearing, but will not be granted a continuance except for good cause.


Minn. Stat. § 176.111, subdivision 16 added language stating that the cessation of dependent benefits (due to the death or marriage of any dependent) requires notice pursuant to subdivision 23.

Subdivision 23, in turn, is a new subdivision stating the procedural requirements of notice of cessation of dependency benefits. An employer seeking to discontinue dependency benefits must file with the commissioner and serve upon the dependent written notice within 14 days of the discontinuance. The notice must state the date the benefits will be discontinued and provide a statement of facts clearly indicating the reason the individual will no longer receive dependency benefits and is no longer considered a dependent under § 176.111. Any document relied upon for the discontinuance must be attached to the notice. Failure to file the notice as required may result in a penalty under § 176.231, subdivision 10.





176.101, subdivision 2a, has been significantly amended. Paragraph (a) now contains a provision stating that “during the 2026 regular legislative session, and every even-year legislative session thereafter, the Workers' Compensation Advisory Council must consider whether the permanent partial disability schedule in paragraph (b) represents adequate compensation for permanent impairment.”

Paragraph (b), in turn, provides significantly higher base dollar amounts by which the impairment rating percentages are derived. This appears to be an approximately 31% increase for lower-end percentages, and it tapers to an approximate 5% for the high ratings. For example, the amount for impairment ratings of less than 5.5% is going to $114,260 (from $78,800), whereas ratings of 95.5% and higher only go up to $567,840 from $540,800.





Minn. Stat. §176.1364, subdivision 3, which addresses the Hospital Outpatient Fee Schedule (HOFS) was amended to included a new paragraph (g), which directs the commissioner, beginning October 1, 2023 to October 1, 2025, to adjust the conversion factors provided in the subdivision to result in an overall reduction in total payments of hospital outpatient service by 3% for services effective October 1, 2023, a further 3% overall reduction starting October 1, 2024, and then a 4% overall reduction for services effective October 1, 2025.

Minn. Stat. §176.1364, subdivision 6 is repealed.




This new legislation directs the commission of labor and industry to “conduct a study to identify systemic or regulatory changes to improve the experience and outcomes of employees with work-related post-traumatic stress disorder.” This study must:

(1)  identify evidence-based methods and best practices for early detection and treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder;

(2)  review models, including those used in other jurisdictions and systems, for delivering mental health wellness training or employee assistance programs, treatment for post- traumatic stress disorder, and benefits related to post-traumatic stress disorder. Review must include outcomes and cost considerations;

(3)  identify any programs in other jurisdictions with effective prevention, timely and effective medical intervention, or high return-to-work rates for employees with work- related post-traumatic stress disorder;

(4)  review the definition of post-traumatic stress disorder provided in Minnesota Statutes, section 176.011, subdivision 15, paragraph (d), and compare to definitions in other jurisdictions; and

(5)  consider the list of occupations subject to the rebuttable presumption in Minnesota Statutes, section 176.011, subdivision 15, paragraph (e).

Any relevant state agency, and specifically the Public Employees Retirement Association, Minnesota State Retirement System, and Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Insurers Association are directed to cooperate with the commissioner in conducting this study. The commissioner must report the results of this study to the Workers’ Compensation Advisory Council and the chairs and ranking minority members of the house of representatives and senate committees with jurisdiction over workers’ compensation by August 1, 2025.





Minn. Stat. § 176.011 was amended to include Subdivision 17b which provides the statutory definition of “relative value fee schedule” as “the medical fee schedule adopted by rule under section 176.136, subdivision 1a, using the Physician Fee Schedule tables adopted for the

federal Medicare program.”


Minnesota Case Law Update--PTSD

Juntunen v. Carlton County


No. A22-0090

WCCA No. WC21-6418


Douglas Juntenen worked as a police officer for Carlton County and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”) on August 20, 2019. Pursuant to the applicable Minnesota statute, first responders diagnosed with PTSD are entitled to a rebuttable presumption that the condition is work-related.

The employer and insurer denied primary liability and made arrangements for an independent medical evaluation to address causation for the diagnosed PTSD.  The IME was completed on July 20, 2020, and stated that the employee was not suffering from PTSD at the time of the exam or any time in the 30 days prior.

The Compensation Judge ruled that the medical opinions expressed in the independent medical evaluation report  were more persuasive than the employee’s treating physician and found that the statutory presumption did not apply. The judge denied the Employee’s claim for workers’ compensation benefits.

The employee appealed, and the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals (“WCCA”) reversed the decision of the Compensation Judge, holding that the presumption applied at the time the employee was diagnosed with PTSD.

On appeal, the Minnesota Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the WCCA holding that the statutory presumption applies as soon as a diagnosis of PTSD has been made. The Court held that the employer and insurer failed to rebut the presumption because their medical expert commented only on the diagnosis of PTSD for the three months prior to the evaluation and not during any other time frame. Therefore, the Court found that the opinion of the treating doctor regarding the diagnosis of PTSD was unopposed for any other time frame.


Chrz v. Mower County

SUPREME COURT-March 8, 2023


WCCA No. WC21-6418

Ryan Chrz worked as a sheriff’s deputy  for Mower County and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”) on September 25, 2019.

On March 30, 2021, the employee’s treating psychologist found that his condition had improved such that he no longer met all of the DSM-5 criteria for a valid PTSD diagnosis. Instead of PTSD, she found that his work-related mental health condition after March 30, 2021, was “other specified trauma and stress related disorder.” She continued to support his claim for disability from working in law enforcement due to his work-related mental-health condition. The employee then filed a Claim Petition for ongoing workers’ compensation benefits.

 Following a full evidentiary hearing, the Compensation Judge awarded the employee ongoing workers’ compensation benefits.

The employer and insurer appealed, and the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals (“WCCA”) reversed in part, holding that the employee was not entitled to any workers’ compensation benefits after March 30, 2021.

On appeal, the Minnesota Supreme Court affirmed the WCCA holding that, even if an employee remains disabled from a work-related mental health condition that was originally diagnosed as PTSD, the claim stops being compensable once the employee no longer meets the diagnostic criteria set forth by the current version of the DSM. On that basis, the Court held that Mr. Chrz did not have an ongoing compensable work injury and was not entitled to ongoing workers’ compensation benefits.



Effective January 14, 2023, Covid-19 is no longer presumed to be work related, regardless of occupation.

During the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, Minnesota statute held that for any employee working in one of the following occupations who contracted Covid-19, the condition as presumed to be work related:

·        firefighter

·        paramedic

·        nurse or health care worker

·        correctional officer, or security counselor employed by the state or a political subdivision in the following work environment: corrections, detention, or secure treatment facility

·        emergency medical technician

·        a health care provider, nurse, or assistive employee employed in a health care, home care, or long-term care setting, with direct Covid-19 patient care or ancillary work in Covid-19 patient units, and

·        workers required to provide childcare to first responders and health care workers.

In 2022, the Minnesota legislature extended the Covid-19 presumption with an applicable sunset provision effective 11:59 p.m. on January 13, 2023. As of January 14, 2023, the provision has now expired andCovid-19 is no longer a presumptive disease in any employee.




Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Case Law Update and

Annual Rate Changes


Maximum Compensation Rate:  Injuries which occur on or after 10/01/2022 will have a new maximum compensation rate of $1,312.74.

Minimum Compensation Rate:  Injuries which occur on or after 10/01/2022 will have a new minimum compensation rate of $262.55 or the average weekly wage, whichever is lower.

Statewide Average Weekly Wage: The SAWW as of 10/01/2022 will be $1,287.00, which yields a minimum compensation rate of $836.55 for employees who are permanently and totally disabled.

.645 Adjustment:  The annual adjustment to the compensation rate for the upcoming year will be 4.46%.

Supplementary Benefits Rate:  As of 10/01/2022, the supplementary benefits rate is $837.00.

A complete list of rate changes that take effect on 10/01/2022 can be found here:


MINNESOTA CASE LAW UPDATE: December 2021 to September 2022



Sershen vs. Met Council (Minn. May 11, 2022)

Factual Background:

 v Counsel appealed the Compensation Judge’s and the Worker's Compensation Court of Appeal's decisions holding that the employee sustained an occupational disease of hearing loss. Further, counsel argued that the Compensation Judge and the W.C.C.A. improperly found the Employer and Insurer liable for medical benefits and erred by failing to consider the liability of the prior employers who settled with the employee pursuant to a Pierringer release.



 v The Minnesota Supreme Court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded to the Compensation Judge.


v The Supreme Court held that the employee established a workplace exposure to a hazard causing an occupational disease and that, consistent with Minn. Stat. § 176.135, subdivision 5 (2020), it was not an error to order payment of medical benefits by the employer where the employee was last exposed.


v The Supreme Court also held that the compensation Judge erred by concluding that all issues, other than medical benefits, were moot by not determining whether the last exposure employer has a right to reimbursement against the last significant exposure employer under Minn. Stat. § 176.135, subdivision 5, and Minn. Stat. § 176.66, subdivision 10 (2020).


v The Supreme Court remanded the matter to the Compensation Judge for determining whether the council was entitled to reimbursement and how that reimbursement is to be made consistent with the Pierringer principles.



CHRC vs. Mower County (W.C.C.A May 9, 2022)


Factual background:

 v The employee began working for Mower County as a deputy sheriff in 2007. He was then diagnosed with PTSD, moderate to severe alcohol use disorder, and major depression in April 2019.


v The employee was recommended various forms of treatment for his PTSD and addiction.


v The employee's condition worsened, and effective March 31, 2020, the employee received duty-related disability benefits from the County, which included monthly income and ongoing health insurance, and he retired from his position.


v He filed a Claim Petition in May 2020 alleging entitlement to various benefits including wage loss benefits beginning April 1, 2020. Dr. Arbisi examined the employee upon the employer's request, and he determined that the employee did not meet the criteria for PTSD under the DSM-V, and that the employee had an unspecified adjustment disorder and alcohol use disorder related to his pending criminal charges. He also later testified that the employee did not follow the standard treatment protocol for PTSD, and instead relied on medication.


v The employee's treating psychiatrist and Dr. Slavik concluded that the employee had chronic PTSD caused by his employment activities as a deputy sheriff which were not resolved.


v Following a hearing, the Judge concluded that the employee had sustained work-related PTSD on April 3, 2019, and awarded wage loss benefits from April 1, 2020 to the present and continuing, though noted the employee had reached MMI and service of MMI occurred on May 18, 2021. The Judge also awarded 20% PPD as determined in Dr. Slavik's report. The employer appealed.



 v In a 2-1 decision, the W.C.C.A reversed the award of PPD, vocational benefits, and medical expenses for treatment after March 30, 2021, and modified the award of TTD benefits to allow TTD only to March 30, 2021.


v The W.C.C.A determined the employee had sufficiently recovered from his PTSD diagnosis to the point where he no longer met the criteria for PTSD under the DSM-V. Because an employer's liability for workers compensation benefits under Chapter 176 ends when an employee is no longer disabled, and the employee was no longer disabled by PTSD as of March 30, 2021, he was not entitled to workers compensation benefits after that date.


v The dissent contended that the majority's opinion resulted from a “narrow interpretation" of the PTSD statute and that the holding was “problematic and unworkable."




Berglund v. Wildrose Health Care, LLC (W.C.C.A. January 7, 2022)

Factual Background:

v The employee appealed the compensation Judge’s determination that she voluntarily resigned from her employment and the denial of her claim for reinstatement of benefits. The employee sustained an admitted injury with the employer for which benefits were paid. The employee was released to work on a part-time, light-duty basis and the employee returned to work. The employer and insurer filed a notice of intention to discontinue temporary total disability (TTD) benefits and indicated temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits would be paid.


  The employee was upset by the discontinuance and advised the employer she would not be working her scheduled shifts that weekend. She then did not show for a meeting to discuss her concerns with her supervisor. Her supervisor considered the employee’s failure to work her scheduled shifts and attend the scheduled meeting along with her statements that she was “done with Wildrose” to be a voluntary resignation and provided the employee with a letter accepting her resignation. At a hearing on an objection to discontinuance, the compensation Judge found the employee voluntarily resigned from her employment and had not made a diligent search for other employment.


v The W.C.C.A. affirmed the compensation Judge’s decision, indicating that the findings appealed by the employee were factual determinations made by the compensation Judge after considering the evidence and arguments of the parties. The W.C.C.A. concluded that substantial evidence existed to support the compensation Judge’s factual determinations. The Court found no evidence on the record that the employee searched for another job. She did work with a QRC, but testified that she had little discussion with her QRC about returning to work. In addition, the last stated rehabilitation goal was returning the employee to work with the date-of-injury employer.




Warhol v. Corexpo, Inc. (W.C.C.A. December 7, 2021

v The W.C.C.A. previously decided this case on April 28, 2021, and affirmed the award of benefits for medical marijuana. The Supreme Court reversed the W.C.C.A.’s decision as it regards to the award of benefits for medical marijuana based on its decision in Musta v. Mendota Heights Dental Ctr. 965 N.W.2d 312 (Minn. 2021) (holding that the Controlled Substances Act preempts requirements under Minnesota Workers’ Compensation that obligate and employer to reimburse an injured employee for medical treatment when that treatment is an award for medical cannabis).

Shareholder Adam Brown, who also serves as our Director of Professional Development, was invited to speak on a panel for the MSBA's New Lawyers Section on March 29. The program was called Preparing for the Interview Process from an Employer's Perspective.

The National Workers' Compensation Defense Network will hold its spring conference in Philadelphia on April 27 and 28. Please click here for more details about the event. If you are able to attend, please connect with Tom Kieselbach, who will be there in his capacity as Immediate Past President of the NWCDN.

Save the date for the 2022 NWCDN Annual Conference, which will be held in Nashville on August 3 and 4.

NWCDN is a national network of the top workers' compensation firms across the country and Canada. CWK is the sole member firm from Minnesota, and CWK has a strong presence in the organization, with Tom Kieselbach serving as Immediate Past President, Parker Olson serving as Midwest Regional Vice-Chair, and Adam Brown serving on the Inclusion and Diversity Committee.

Please click here for summaries of Minnesota workers' compensation cases from February 2022. Issues include Petitions to Vacate Stipulations because of changes in medical conditions, judicial discretion in cases involving choice of medical experts, and cases involving witness credibility.

February 2022 summaries by Eric Behr.

Shareholder Whitney Teel has been asked to speak at this year's Minnesota Workers' Compensation Symposium, which will take place on Thursday, May 12, 2022. Please click here for the Symposium's webpage and registration information.

Whitney will present at 11:10 a.m. during Breakout Session 2B. She will be addressing vocational rehabilitation benefits in a session entitled Vocational Rehabilitation Bootcamp - Managing Services and Expenses.

CWK will once again be an exhibitor at the Symposium, and we hope you will stop by our booth to say hello. Please make sure to sign up for Breakout Session 2B for a great presentation from Whitney!

CWK's popular Annual Seminar will be back in person this year! The seminar will be held on Friday, September 30, 2022 at the Hilton Minneapolis/Bloomington.

More details will follow over the next few months, but please save the date now. We hope to see you, live and in person, in September!

On Thursday, February 3, 2022, Governor Walz signed a bill into law that extended the workers’ compensation presumption for certain frontline professions through 2022. The prior law addressing this presumption expired on December 31, 2021. As of now, the new law is not retroactive to January 2022, but there may be legislation that addresses this question later this year.

This law extends the presumption that has been in place for much of the pandemic. By way of reminder, this presumption indicates that employees working in first responder or healthcare occupations will be presumed eligible for workers’ compensation benefits if they either test positive for COVID-19 or are diagnosed by a licensed physician, physician’s assistant, or APRN without a test. In situations where a test has not been done, a copy of written documentation of the diagnosis shall be provided to the Employer and Insurer. The following occupations fall into this presumption:

  • Firefighter

  • Paramedic

  • Nurses or Healthcare Workers

  • Correctional Officer/Security Counselor at Minnesota Correctional Facilities

  • Emergency Medical Technician

  • Healthcare provider, nurse, or assistant employed with home care or long-term setting

  • Workers required to provide childcare to first responders and health care workers under certain Executive Orders

In summary, if an employee shows that he or she works within one of these occupations and either tests positive for or is diagnosed with COVID-19, the burden of proof will shift to the Employer and Insurer to rebut the presumption. Employers and Insurers will still be able to show that the employment was not a direct cause of the disease, but it will be much more difficult to prevail on a denial of liability when one of these types of employees contract COVID-19. To note, the date of injury in these situations shall be the date the employee is no longer able to work due to a diagnosis of COVID-19 or due to the symptoms later diagnosed as COVID-19, whichever occurs first.

This Legislative Update was prepared by Parker Olson.

In October 2021, the Minnesota Supreme Court handed down a groundbreaking decision after its review of the Bierbach v. Digger's Polaris and Musta v. Mendota Heights Dental Center workers' compensation cases. Click Here for a full analysis of those cases. In summary, the Minnesota Supreme Court held that Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Courts, including the Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals (WCCA), lack jurisdiction to decide whether federal law preempts Minnesota law requiring an employer or insurer to reimburse an employee for medical treatment in the form of medical cannabis. The Minnesota Supreme Court also held that the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Act is preempted by the Federal Controlled Substance Act (CSA). As such, Minnesota Employers and Insurers are not required to reimburse employees for medical cannabis used to treat a work injury.


The Supreme Court of the United States is now reviewing the decision of the Minnesota Supreme Court to provide guidance to lower courts and states around the country regarding compensability of medical cannabis. Click the following links for the SCOTUS dockets in Musta v. Mendota Heights Dental and Bierbach v. Digger’s Polaris. In addition to legal briefs and arguments submitted by the parties, the U.S. Supreme Court has now invited the Biden Administration to submit a brief regarding the issues. This news certainly signals that this case could become a landmark decision.

Employers, Insurers, and courts in every state have been faced with very difficult questions as to the application of state cannabis laws that contradict the federal prohibition. Given this pending United States Supreme Court case, workers’ compensation professionals around the country will likely receive some guidance as to whether there is a legal requirement to reimburse employees for medical cannabis used to treat a work-related injury and whether the federal Controlled Substances Act preempts contradictory state laws.

For now, the state of the law in Minnesota remains unchanged, and Employers and Insurers are not required to reimburse employees for medical cannabis used to treat a work injury in Minnesota. We will continue to monitor the filings at the United States Supreme Court closely, so please feel free to reach out with any questions.

Summary by Parker T. Olson