July 2019 WCCA Decisions

July 2019 WCCA Decisions

 

The WCCA refuses to consider employer and insurer’s Motion to Compel in a case where the employee had not sought or received workers’ compensation benefits, and primary liability was denied. On July 31, 2019, the WCCA issued its decision in Hawley v. City of Blaine, No. WC19-6274. In the case, the employee sustained an injury and a First Report of Injury was filed. The employer and insurer denied primary liability through the filing of a NOPLD. No pleadings were filed by the employee. Four months later, the employer and insurer filed a motion to compel the employee’s attendance at an independent psychological examination. Employee refused to comply and the matter came before a compensation judge.

 

At the Hearing, the employee argued that the judge did not have subject matter jurisdiction to compel attendance at an independent psychological examination because employee had not filed a claim. Ultimately, the compensation judge found that there was no subject matter jurisdiction to even consider the Motion to Compel because employee had not filed a claim and primary liability had been denied.

 

The case was appealed and the WCCA affirmed the decision. Ultimately, the decision came down to the fact that employee had not brought a claim and had never received benefits for the injury, and primary liability was denied. Because of this, the compensation judge did not have subject matter jurisdiction to consider the motion to compel employee to attend an independent psychological examination.

 

Summary by Parker T. Olson

 

 

 

The WCCA vacated the compensation judge’s findings when it was found that the judge improperly expanded the scope of the issues at Hearing. On July 30, 2019, the WCCA issued its decision in Dexter v. Hubbard Cnty., No. WC19-6261. In the case, the employee fell on both knees and claimed a torn meniscus. He already had a history of arthritis, and a total knee replacement was recommended. The employer and insurer admitted liability, but disputed the nature and extent of the injury. Dr. Wyard issued an IME opinion that the total knee arthroplasty was not necessary and that the claimed injury was not a substantial contributing factor to the need for surgery. The employee underwent the surgery and was ultimately provided a 16.1512% PPD rating by the treating surgeon. The employer and insurer disputed the PPD rating among other issues, and the case proceeded to Hearing.

 

At Hearing, the compensation judge awarded 16% PPD, not the 16.1512% claimed. He also ordered reimbursement to intervenor Essentia Health, even though Essentia had filed documents stating that it no longer had an intervention interest. Upon request, the compensation judge issued an Amended Findings and Order and added an additional 2% PPD due to the meniscectomy under Minn. R. 5223.0170, subp. 5.B.(2), and did not amend the Order otherwise. The matter was appealed.

 

On appeal, the WCCA found that the compensation judge erred by expanding the issues raised at trial. It was clear that the 2% meniscectomy rating was never claimed by the employee. Furthermore, the order for payment to Essentia was not supported by substantial evidence, and therefore was also vacated. Ultimately, the WCCA found that a compensation judge is limited solely to the resolution of issues raised at trial,

 

Summary by Parker T. Olson