Allan v. Colar Buick GMC

Allan v. Colar Buick GMC. No. WC17-6028 (WCCA June 22, 2017)

This is a case interpreting closeouts of the Stipulation for Settlement.  The employee, Richard Allan, had multiple low back and left knee injuries from multiple employer and insurers.  The injuries were in 1985, 1992, 2013, and April 19, 2014.  The last date of injury corresponded to his last day of work with the last employer, on the same date the employee was awarded social security disability.  The 2013 and 2014 injuries were with his last employer, North Star Ford/Evergreen Limited (“Evergreen”).

The parties entered into a Stipulation for Settlement in July 2014.  The settlement was for a full, final, and complete settlement, and it included approval of bilateral total knee replacement surgery.

The employee subsequently brought a claim for a new Gillette-type injury.

The 2014 employer and insurer moved to dismiss the Claim Petition based upon the closeout language in the Stipulation for Settlement.

Compensation Judge Arnold dismissed the claim against the 2014 employer and insurer, citing the closeout language of the Stipulation.

Citing Ryan v. Potlatch Corporation, 82 NW2d 220(Minn. 2016), the WCCA noted that at the time of the settlement the employee’s low back and knee conditions were well known, and that those conditions were “reasonably within the contemplation of the parties at the time of the settlement.”

The WCCA noted that deference is given to the compensation judge on issues of fact.  They were not swayed by the employee’s argument that the specific injury date alleged by the employee as a Gillette-type injury was not included in the earlier Stipulation.  The Court essentially concluded that the low back and left knee injuries that were closed out in the Stipulation were “reasonably within the contemplation of the parties at the time of the settlement.”  They noted that the employee’s claimed subsequent Gillette injuries did not represent a new claim because the employee’s low back and knee injuries were well known to the parties at the time the settlement was reached, and that under Ryan, knowledge of the condition at the time of settlement determines the extent of the closeout.  The alleged Gillette-injury against the 2014 employer was, therefore, appropriately dismissed.