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


Minnesota Case Law Update—January 2024

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Tea v. Ramsey County et al., No. WC22-6493 (W.C.C.A. July 28, 2023).

The employee was a licensed social worker working as an adult mental health case manager who learned that in February 2020, one of her clients murdered his girlfriend. The employee initially heard about the incident over the telephone and subsequently through work meetings and conversations where the details of the criminal act were discussed in depth. The employee also conducted her own independent research outside of work via the internet and other news outlets.

The employee filed a First Report of Injury alleging work-related secondary trauma stemming from the violent act committed by her client. She underwent a psychiatric evaluation and was diagnosed with PTSD based on the DSM-5.

The employer and insurer initially accepted primary liability and began administering the claim. They made arrangements for an independent psychological evaluation and their expert opined that the employee did not meet criteria for PTSD under DSM-5. The employer discontinued benefits based upon that opinion.

The employee underwent a third psychological evaluation with a plaintiff’s expert who agreed with the first doctor that the employee met the DSM-5 criteria for PTSD as a result of her repeated exposure to the details of the murder. He also diagnosed major depressive and anxiety disorder. He specifically opined that Criteria A4 was met when the employee initially learned of the murder and with subsequent repeated exposure to the details for the next several days.

At hearing, the compensation judge found the employee sustained work-related PTSD and major depressive disorder and awarded workers’ compensation benefits. The employer appealed.

On appeal, the employer argued that the adoption of the third doctor’s opinion was erroneous and not supported by the evidence. The Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals held that it could not consider arguments as to whether the expert physicians misapplied the DSM requirements to the facts of the case pursuant to the holding in Smith v. Carver County (2019). On that basis, the WCCA affirmed the compensation judge’s findings that the employee’s expert physicians rendered credible medical opinions.

The W.C.C.A vacated the findings that the employee had major depressive disorder. That condition was not pled as consequential to the PTSD claim and major depressive order standing alone is not compensable. So, the judge could not find that as a work-related, compensable condition.

Arising out of and in the Course and Scope (safe ingress/egress)

Chad Olson v. Total Specialty Contracting, Inc., et al., No. WC23-6510 (W.C.C.A. November 9, 2023)

The employee was working as a journeyman heat and frost insulator for an employer who was subcontracted to work on a construction project on the University of Minnesota campus. He was scheduled to meet with another subcontractor to discuss the job. The meeting was set to take place in an area enclosed by a chain link fence and gates because it was closed to the public. The employee was instructed to park nearby, walk across the street and between two buildings, following the fence until he reached the gate and then enter the gate and the building.

When he arrived for the meeting, the employee was already wearing his vest, work boots, pants, hard hat and safety glasses. He arrived for the meeting at 5:45 a.m. and followed the directions for entrance. The chain link fence encroached upon the cement walkway which was covered with wet, frosty leaves and the area was dimly lit. Within five to ten feet of the gate entrance, the employee slipped and fell, sustaining injuries to the back and ankle.  He could not explain the cause of his fall but testified that he assumed he slipped and fell due to the wet leaves.

The employer and insurer denied that the injury arose out of and in the course and scope of employment because the employee didn’t know what caused the injury and there was no evidence connecting the injury to the employment. The employer and insurer also took the position argued that the injury occurred outside the perimeter of the construction site and occurred 15 minutes prior to the meeting, so did not meet the time and place requirements of a compensable claim. Similar to the Dykhoff case, the asserted that it was an unexplained fall on a flat surface prior to the work day and outside the work premises and therefore, not compensable.

The compensation judge found the employee’s injury was compensable and arose out of and in the course and scope of employment because the location where he fell was “used as an extension of the job site” and the walkway was not well lit and was covered in wet leaves immediately adjacent to the fence surrounding the site.

On appeal, the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals affirmed the compensation judge, explaining that while the employee was not certain what caused the fall, the court could not conclude that the injury was unexplained and that the set of circumstances (wet leaves covering the walkway, poor lighting, unfamiliarity with the area, limited entry and fence encroaching on the walkway while wearing PPE to attend a meeting necessary to begin his work for the employer) increased the employee’s exposure to injury and established a causal connection between the work injury and employment.

Injuries Caused by a Third Party

Profit v. HRT Holdings d/b/a Doubletree Suites and CNA Claim Plus, et. al., No. WC21-6438 (W.C.C.A. April 14, 2022).

The employee was in the course of his employment when he was attacked by an assailant who had checked into the hotel where the employee worked. The employee and the assailant were acquainted and the assailant believed the employee had poisoned his uncle. The compensation judge determined that the assailant assaulted the employee solely for personal reasons entirely unconnected to the employment and that therefore, the employee’s claims were barred by the intentional act defense set forth in Minn. Stat. § 176.011, subd. 16. In doing so, the compensation judge concluded there is no exception to the intentional act defense where the assailant’s motivation arises from mental illness.  On appeal, the denial of benefits was affirmed by the Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals and the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Notice Requirements for Repetitive Use (Gillette) Claims

Schmidt v. Walmart, No. WC21-6437 (W.C.C.A. May 16, 2022)

The employee suffered from chronic left knee pain that required surgical intervention twelve years before her employment began with employer. She maintained that she was symptom-free and working without restriction leading up to the alleged work injury. She was hired by the employer in 2005 and worked full time in a variety of different roles until 2011. In September 2011, she reported constant aggravations of her knee at work although she didn’t seek medical treatment until May 2015.

When seen by a physician in 2015, she was diagnosed with left knee arthritis and recommended for a total knee arthroplasty. The physician opined that the condition was not due to the alleged work-related incident from September 2011.  A revision surgery was performed on January 16, 2019, but the employee found it difficult to work when she resumed her duties with the employer. She sought legal counsel in March 2019 a filed a claim for a  repetitive use (Gillette) injury to the left knee.

The medical expert for the employer and insurer opined that the condition was not work-related but instead, due to preexisting osteoarthritis. The treating doctor opined that the employee’s preexisting condition had been accelerated by her work for the employer.

At hearing, the workers’ compensation judge found that the employee suffered a Gillette injury on October 27, 2015, that she provided proper notice of the injury to the employer, and that she did not withdraw from the labor market. The employer and insurer appealed.

On appeal, the employer and insurer argued that the employee knew her work activities were causing left knee symptoms in September 2011, and that said date triggered the statutory obligation to give notice of injury to the employer. They also argued that by giving notice to the employer in March 2019, the claim was barred by the statute of limitations.

The court rejected that argument and felt that it was reasonable to conclude that the Gillette injury culminated around the time the employee’s work activities caused her to be disabled from work during surgery and recovery. Moreover, the court reasoned that notice was properly given in March 2019 because prior to retaining legal counsel, the employee was unaware that repetitive minute trauma culminating in an injury could be a compensable work-related injury.