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.


Minnesota

COUSINEAU, WALDHAUSER & KIESELBACH, P.A.

  651-393-5861

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 

On Friday, February 4, 2022, Minnesota 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 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 Worker

·    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.

Please contact CWK Attorney Parker Olson at (952) 525-6930 or parker.olson@cwk-law.com with any questions. 

 

Thomas Coleman recently secured a favorable decision at the Office of Administrative Hearings in a case involving multiple claimed work injuries.

The first injury was alleged to have resulted from an accident involving a motor vehicle and a train, wherein the employee claimed to have suffered significant and permanent injuries to the cervical spine, bilateral shoulders, and back. He subsequently underwent cervical fusion surgery. The second injury involved a claim for PTSD, which the employee allegedly sustained as a result of another accident.

The Compensation Judge at the Office of Administrative Hearings found that the first injury was a temporary aggravation, which resolved within six weeks, and he denied any claims after that time. This included a denial of significant amounts of indemnity benefits and medical benefits, including the cervical fusion surgery. With respect to the PTSD claim, the Compensation Judge denied primary liability for the claim in its entirety.

This was an outstanding result in a case involving significant exposure and a possible permanent total disability claim.

On December 14, 2021, the Minnesota Supreme Court Summarily Affirmed the Workers Compensation Court of Appeals’ (WCCA) denial of the employee’s Petition to Vacate in Leadens v. Diversified Distributors.

CWK represented the employer and insurer in this case, defending against the employee’s Petition to Vacate a full, final, and complete settlement (the Stipulation had been settled and drafted by a different firm in 1998). The employee appealed the matter to the Minnesota Supreme Court after the WCCA held the employee had not established "good cause" to vacate the 1998 Award on Stipulation. 

The WCCA found that that there was neither significant evidence of a substantial worsening of the employee’s condition nor was there a basis upon which to vacate the Award because the employee was unrepresented by counsel at the time of the original settlement. CWK’s Responsive Brief to the MN Supreme Court was prepared by Emily Johnson, in collaboration with Parker Olson and Mark Kleinschmidt (who handled the case at the WCCA). The Minnesota Supreme Court affirmed the WCCA’s ruling, denying the Petition to Vacate and thereby preventing the employee from reopening the case for additional compensation. 

Click here for the WCCA Decision.

Click here for the Minnesota Supreme Court's Summary Affirmance.

Summary by Emily Johnson.