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Recently, the Minnesota Supreme Court reversed a decision by the WCCA and held that a psychological examiner had adequate foundation to provide an expert opinion regarding a concussion and post-concussion syndrome. In the case, an employee injured her head in the scope of employment, and filed a medical request seeking coverage for various treatments. Following the hearing, the compensation judge denied the employee’s medical request and found that she had not sustained a concussion or post-concussive syndrome. The compensation judge relied heavily on the opinion of a psychological examiner in ruling in favor of the employer and insurer.
The employee filed an appeal to the WCCA, which reversed the compensation judge’s decision. The WCCA found that the psychological examiner lacked foundation and was not competent as an expert. The issue of competence was never raised on appeal. The WCCA brought it up sua sponte (“on their own”), and ruled in favor of the employee after second-guessing the decision of the compensation judge.
The case was then appealed to the Minnesota Supreme Court, which reversed the WCCA’s decision. The Court found that the WCCA erred when it ruled on the issue of the psychological examiner’s competence. Pursuant to Minn. Stat. 176.421, Subd. 6, the WCCA is “limited to issues raised by the parties in the notice of appeal” and therefore should never have raised the competence issuesua sponte. Furthermore, the Court indicated that it was frankly perplexed at the WCCA’s opinion that the psychological examiner did not have adequate foundation. The Court made it clear that the WCCA should not have second-guessed the compensation judge, and ultimately ruled in favor of the employer and insurer.
The case is Gianotti v. I.S.D. 152, A16-0629 and can be found here: http://mn.gov/law-library-stat/archive/supct/2017/OPA160629-020817.pdf
This article was prepared by Parker T. Olson and edited by Michael R. Johnson.