LUND AND JOHNSON PREVAIL AT WCCA IN HIGH INTEREST CASE

Koehnen v. Flagship Marine Co. and Auto-Owners Insurance and Keith Johnson, D.C.

WC19-6287 (W.C.C.A. Dec. 27, 2019)

 

On December 27, 2019, the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals affirmed the Order of the compensation judge 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 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.

 

The Petitioner’s Bar wrote an amicus brief in support of the Employer and Insurer on this case.  We expect counsel for Johnson Chiropractic to appeal to the Minnesota Supreme Court with his constitutional argument, in particular.  Both sides of the Bar will likely contribute amicus briefs in the Supreme Court matter.

 

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.  You can also see the decision document HERE.