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Workers' Compensation

Minnesota: Substantial Deference Must Be Given to Compensation Judge’s Findings

In a deeply divided decision, the Supreme Court of Minnesota reversed a decision of the state’s Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals (WCCA), finding that the WCCA had inappropriately substituted its judgment for that of the compensation judge. The employee, a registered nurse, injured her shoulder while rushing up a staircase at the workplace of her employer at the end of her work shift. Acknowledging that the staircase was not defective, the nurse said she hurried because she (1) was concerned about incurring overtime, and (2) needed to report promptly to the oncoming shift. After hearing her testimony, the compensation judge made a credibility determination and found that her explanation for the rushing was not credible. Based on the credibility finding, the judge determined that while the injury occurred “in the course of” the nurse’s employment, the nurse had failed to show that it “arose out of” the employment (i.e., the employment did not place her at any increased risk of injury). The WCCA disagreed. After a review of the entire record, the majority of the Supreme Court concluded that the WCCA’s “finding” about the nurse’s need to “promptly report” to the next shift was manifestly contrary to the evidence for a simple reason: the nurse offered no evidence that she was under any pressure to hurry or to rush to finish her report to the oncoming shift (apart from her general concern). Because the findings of the compensation judge were supported by substantial evidence that, in view of the entire record as submitted, a reasonable mind would accept as adequate, the WCCA was required to affirm the compensation judge’s findings.

Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the Feature National Columnist for the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation eNewsletter, is the co-author of Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law (LexisNexis).

LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance.

See Kubis v. Community Mem. Hosp. Ass’n, 2017 Minn. LEXIS 374 (June 28, 2017)

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 130.03.

Source: Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the nation’s leading authority on workers’ compensation law