Ryan v. Potlach — A Win for Cousineau McGuire at the MN Supreme Court

Cousineau McGuire attorneys Natalie Lund and Jim Waldhauser successfully represented a Self-Insured Employer at the Minnesota Supreme Court in Ryan v. Potlatch Corporation. The decision from the Minnesota Supreme Court was issued July 13, 2016, and changes the law with respect to the closure of future consequential injuries in a Stipulation for Settlement.

Prior to Ryan, the Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals held for decades that future unknown consequential injuries could not be closed out in a Stipulation for Settlement. As such, an employee who claims a consequential injury arising after a settlement could merely file a new Claim Petition. A Petition to Vacate would not be necessary, and the employer and insurer would not get a credit for any benefits paid pursuant to the prior settlement agreement. This would allow an employee to obtain a double recovery of benefits. The WCCA upheld this precedent in Ryan, and Ms. Lund and Mr. Waldhauser appealed.

The Minnesota Supreme Court reversed and remanded, agreeing with the Self-Insured Employer that the WCCA had misconstrued the Supreme Court’s decision in Sweep v. Hanson Silo Co. Further, the Court agreed that Minn. Stat. 176.521 allows the parties to settle any claim for compensation, which includes future consequential injuries. The proper procedure for a consequential injury claim after a settlement is to file a petition to vacate.