Adams v. Sodexo, Inc., WCCA No. WC13-5607 (January 9, 2014)
The employee was injured while riding an elevator which dropped suddenly, causing the employee to strike her right arm against the elevator’s handrail. Employer and Insurer accepted primary liability for a temporary right elbow. Employee subsequently brought a Claim Petition for continued treatment and for injuries to the neck, right shoulder, and low back. The matter was mediated and settled. A Stipulation for Settlement was signed by the employee and her attorney on September 26, 2012, and filed shortly thereafter.
The employee subsequently petitioned to vacate the Award, pro se. Her central argument was that she was unaware that the Stipulation she was signing closed out future medical benefits. Specifically, she alleged misrepresentations, missing documents, false statements, mistake of fact, and a substantial change in medical condition.
First, the employee asserted a mutual mistake of fact, arguing she was unaware medical benefits were being closed. The court found that a mistake of fact has to be common among the parties and that the employer and insurer were not mistaken with regard to the facts. The court also dismissed the employee’s charge that her medical condition had substantially changed. Finally, the employee asserted the Award should be set aside due to misrepresentation and fraud. She contended that her attorney concealed the true purpose of the Stipulation for Settlement. However, under Minn. Stat. § 176.46, fraud is defined as intentional effort to mislead a party by another party. As the Employee’s attorney was not a party to the proceeding, there was no evidence to support vacating the Award on Stipulation.