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.
Medical Expert Opinion
Scott Polzin v. Canterbury Park and SFM, slip op.
WCCA, filed February 20, 2013 ~ reviewed by Tom Atchison
The W.C.C.A. affirmed the compensation judge’s Findings and Order denying the employee’s claim for wage loss benefits and request for authorization for surgery. In doing so, the W.C.C.A. held that it was reasonable for the compensation judge to accept Dr. Friedland’s opinion who performed an IME on behalf of the employer and insurer. The treating doctor, Dr. Falconer’s opinion, the W.C.C.A. noted, lacked a sufficient basis to conclude that a diagnostic midcarpal arthroscopy would identify or resolve the Employee’s symptoms.
In July 2007 the Employee sustained a left hand injury while working as poker dealer at Canterbury Park. Ultimately, the Employer and Insurer accepted liability for the Employee’s left hand injury. Over the following months and years, the Employee underwent multiple treatments to diagnose the cause of his left hand symptoms. Multiple doctors were unable to identify the etiology of the Employee’s symptoms, including a Mayo Clinic doctor who offered an opinion that he employee could engage in any activities without jeopardy to the left hand. In light of the unknown etiology, Dr. Falconer recommended a diagnostic midcarpal arthroscopy. Dr. Falconer did acknowledge that previous MRIs and scans should have revealed joint irritation or arthritic damage and, further, that the surgery might not provide lasting therapeutic benefits if it did not identify the cause of the Employee’s symptoms. The Employee filed a Claim Petition claiming entitlement to wage loss benefits, a vocational rehabilitation consultation, and approval of the surgery recommended by Dr. Falconer.
The Employee underwent an independent medical examination with Dr. Mark Friedland. Dr. Friedland concluded that the Employee’s symptoms were without objective anatomic etiology. Further, he opined that the Employee was not in need of any additional medical care and that he had no work restrictions. Dr. Friedland also concluded that Dr. Falconer’s surgical recommendation was not reasonable or necessary. The compensation judge adopted Dr. Friedland’s opinion that the Employee had no work restrictions effective June 1, 2010, that the Employee was not entitled to wage-loss benefits as alleged, and that Dr. Falconer’s surgical recommendation was not reasonable or necessary. The WCCA affirmed, reiterating the long held view that the compensation judge’s choice of competing medical opinions will be upheld unless there is a foundational defect.
Subdivision 7 Fees
Lann v. Stan Koch & Sons Trucking, Inc.
WCCA, filed March 6, 2013 ~ reviewed by T. Zachary Chalgren
In case of first impression, the WCCA, over the dissent of Judge Wilson, reversed the compensation judge’s calculation of an award under MS 176.081, subd. 7. The employee’s attorney requested payment of attorney fees, including subd. 7 fees, after successfully representing the employee with respect to a medical issue. There had been an award of attorney fees and subd. 7 fees after an earlier dispute, where the subd.7 fees were calculated at 30% of the attorney fees awarded in excess of $250. In the present case, the employee calculated the subd. 7 fee at 30% of the fee awarded. The employer and insurer calculated the subd. 7 fee at 30% of the fees awarded in excess of $250. The difference was $75.00. The compensation judge agreed with the employer and insurers calculation. The majority of the 3 Judge panel disagreed and reversed, awarding subd. 7 fees as calculated by the employee. The basis for the reversal was that MS 176.081 states that attorney’s fees for the same dates of injury are cumulative; therefore the statute contemplates deduction of the $250 only once.
Judge Wilson dissented, holding that other provisions of Minn. Stat. § 176.081 contemplate evaluation of fees on a claim-by-claim basis. Wilson argued that the majority’s analysis would apply not only to Subdivision 7, but to calculation of contingent fees under Minn. Stat. § 176.081, subd. 1(a).
Electronic Filing at Minnesota Department
of Labor and Industry
The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) has launched a new online process enabling employees, insurers, attorneys, rehabilitation providers and medical providers to complete and submit Medical Request, Medical Response, Rehabilitation Request and Rehabilitation Response forms electronically to the department. The process is intended to reduce delays caused by manually processing paper requests and responses. Use of this online filing process is optional; parties can continue to file these forms with the department in the conventional paper format.
The process is available to use beginning April 19, 2013. All applicable statutes and rules regarding the filing of Medical Request and Rehabilitation Request forms apply to the forms available electronically from DLI’s website. Data submitted electronically will be accepted as received only during regular DLI business hours, 8 am to 4:30 p.m. (Central Time), Monday through Friday (excluding holidays). Data received after 4:30 p.m. or on a Saturday, Sunday or state holiday will be electronically date-stamped for the next business day DLI is open for business.
The form can be accessed at https://secure.doli.state.mn.us/adrforms/main.aspx. General instructions and directions for completion and submission of Medical Request and Rehabilitation Request forms can be accessed at www.dli.mn.gov/WC/PDF/mq03.pdf or www.dli.mn.gov/WC/PDF/rq03.pdf. If you have questions regarding the submission of these forms, call the Alternative Dispute Resolution unit at (651) 284-5032 or 1-800-342-5354.