Lund and Johnson prevail at Minnesota Supreme Court in High Interest Case
Koehnen v. Flagship Marine Co. and Auto-Owners Insurance and Keith Johnson, D.C.
A20-0053 (August 12, 2020)
On August 12, 2020, the Minnesota Supreme Court affirmed the Decision of the Minnesota Worker’s Compensation Court of Appeals dismissing the Petition for Payment of Medical Expenses filed by a medical provider, Keith Johnson, D.C.
The chiropractor was properly placed on notice of right to intervene pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 176.361 and chose not to file a Motion to Intervene, which would have made the provider a party to the claim. The Employee ultimately settled his claim with the Employer and Insurer and those providers which had intervened were included in the settlement. The Award extinguished the right of the chiropractor to recover payments pursuant to the statute and Minn. Rule 1420.1850.
Eight months after the Award was filed, the chiropractor filed a Petition for Payment of Medical Expenses. The Employee and the Employer and Insurer filed Motions to Dismiss and the compensation judge dismissed the Petition with prejudice, concluding that the chiropractor did not have standing to file such a Petition because there was no outstanding claim by the Employee. The chiropractor appealed to the Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals, arguing: 1) the Award was unenforceable and invalid as his rights were extinguished on the basis he chose not to intervene; 2) the rule and statute relied upon by the compensation judge and Office of Administrative Hearings exceeded the express or implied authority granted by the legislature; and 3) he was entitled to full payment per case law as he was excluded from settlement negotiations.
The WCCA affirmed the Order dismissing the Petition, finding that the medical provider chose not to be a party to the case and avail himself of the remedies provided by statute when he chose not to intervene. Because he was not a party to the case, he had no authority or standing to bring a claim under Minn. Stat. § 176.291 or assert the Award collaterally. Due to the lack of standing, the WCCA did not address other arguments by the chiropractor.
The chiropractor appealed the WCCA’s decision to the Minnesota Supreme Court. Michael Johnson represented the Employer and Insurer at oral argument before the Supreme Court en banc on June 2, 2020.
Today, the Minnesota Supreme Court affirmed the WCCA decision in its entirety, finding that a health care provider who voluntarily declines to intervene in a pending workers’ compensation proceeding after receiving timely and adequate notice of the right to intervene cannot initiate a collateral attack on the compensation award under Minn. Stat. 176.271, .291, or Minn. R. 1420.1850, subp. 3B.
The case affirms that under Minn. Stat. § 176.361, Subd. 2(a) and Minn. Rule 1420.1850, a potential intervenor who is properly provided notice of right to intervene and does not file a Motion to Intervene within 60 days of notice shall have their right to recover extinguished.
CWK attorneys Natalie K. Lund and Michael R. Johnson handled the case on behalf of the Employer and Insurer. Please contact either of them with any questions.