David v. The Heavy Equip. Co.

David v. The Heavy Equip. Co., No. WC15-5802 (February 17, 2016)

The employer and insurer appealed from the compensation judge’s dismissal of its petition for recovery of erroneously paid medical benefits which sought reimbursement for medical expense payments made to various healthcare providers as a result of an injury that was previously adjudicated as not compensable. The employee in this case suffered multiple injuries when struck by a falling chimney while he sat in a heavy equipment excavator. The employer admitted liability and paid benefits, including medical benefits, from September 16, 2005-October 7, 2009. In late September 2011 the employer and insurer filed a petition for reimbursement and a petition for discontinuance, which were consolidated and heard together. Judge Marshall found that the injuries sustained by the employee on September 16, 2005 were the result of an activity not related to his employment and thus did not arise out of the and in the course and scope of his employment with employer. Judge Marshall also found the employee did not intentionally or knowingly misrepresent, misstate, or fail to disclose material facts and thus did not receive benefits in bad faith.

Judge Marshall granted the employer’s petition for discontinuance but denied the petition for reimbursement. The employer and insurer did not make a claim for reimbursement against the medical providers and no appeal was taken from the August 2012 Findings and Order. In November 2014 the employer and insurer filed a petition for recovery of erroneously paid medical benefits against the providers. In dismissing the Petition for Recovery, Judge Marshall determined the Workers’ Compensation Act and rules do not provide a basis for the employer and insurer’s claim, neither does Minn. Stat. 176.291(a), and dismissal was appropriate.

The employer and insurer appealed. They argued a broad reading of Minn. Stat. 176.291(a) is appropriate, that its petition concerns “a dispute as to a question of law or fact in connection with a claim for compensation,” and therefore, Minn. Stat. § 176.291(a) confers jurisdiction. The court analyzed the case under subject matter jurisdiction, which may be raised at any time and even if none of the parties have raised the issue. The court found that the August of 2012 final determination that there was no compensable work injury meant there was no longer any basis for action under the Workers’ Compensation Act. By its own terms, the court found that a dispute must arise “in connection with a claim for compensation” to fall withint he statute. The dismissal was affirmed.