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Minnesota: Claimant Pulled into Argument Between Two Employers Awarded Attorney’s Fees

July 26, 2018 (1 min read)

In a workers' compensation dispute where two employers denied liability and the employee was drawn into the litigation, the employee was entitled to attorney fees under Minn. Stat. § 176.191, held the Supreme Court of Minnesota. Here, the employee sought benefits in 2015 for work-related aggravations to a low-back condition that resulted from an admitted work-related injury in 2009. At all relevant times, the employee worked at the same job, performing the same duties, at the same physical location. But between the 2009 injury and the later aggravations sustained in 2014 and 2015, the attorney’s employer and its insurer changed. When he sought benefits for the later aggravations, the 2009-injury employer denied liability, asserting that the 2014 and 2015 injuries were subsequent injuries for which the new employer and its insurer were liable. The new employer also denied liability, declaring that the aggravations were a continuation of the 2009 injury and, therefore, the responsibility of the original employer and its insurer. The Court said the dispute was primarily between the insurers; the issue was how liability should be apportioned between them. Their argument greatly increased the burden on the employee. He was accordingly entitled to attorney’s fees. 

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

LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance. 

See Hufnagel v. Deer River Health Care Ctr., 2018 Minn. LEXIS 378 (July 18, 2018)

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 133.01.

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