Galen Koll v. Independent Sch. Dist. 345, et al.

Galen Koll v. Independent Sch. Dist. 345, et al., No. WC16-5992 (WCCA Mar. 16, 2017).

The employee sustained an injury when he slipped and fell while working for the employer.  The employee’s treating doctor diagnosed him with a traumatic brain injury and a sprain/strain to his cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine. The employee obtained additional diagnoses from other treating providers relating to post-concussive syndrome as well.

The employee eventually underwent an independent psychological examination with Dr. Beniak, and an independent medical examination with Dr. Strobl. Dr. Beniak opined that the employee did not suffer a TBI related to the work injury, but may have sustained a minimal concussive injury, which did not result in cognitive or psychological consequences.

Dr. Strobl opined that the employee would have suffered a minimal concussion, if any, that he was at MMI, he could return to work without restrictions, and required no further medical treatment or a PPD rating.

A hearing was held on June 14, 2016.  The compensation judge held that the employee sustained a TBI/post-concussive syndrome, and cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine injuries as a result of his work injury. She also held that the employee was entitled to TTD and medical benefits. The employer and insurer appealed the compensation judge’s Findings and Order.

On appeal to the WCCA, this was primarily a Hengemuhle issue, in which the WCCA indicated that there was substantial evidence to support the compensation judge’s conclusions regarding the nature and extent of the employee’s injuries. The WCCA also affirmed the compensation judge’s determination that the employee remained totally disabled from employment.

The employer and insurer argued that the compensation judge did not “adequately consider” the evidence in support of the employee reaching MMI. Although the employer and insurer relied on opinions that the employee reached MMI when they argued the employee was not entitled to TTD benefits, the WCCA indicated that the parties failed to raise MMI as a distinct issue before the compensation judge, which precluded the WCCA from addressing MMI on appeal.

Lastly, the employee asserted that intervenor and medical mileage awards were waived by the employer and insurer due to their failure to include such arguments in their appellate brief. The employer and insurer indicated that such arguments were inferred through their argument that the employee was not entitled to TTD benefits, as he reached MMI. The WCCA relied on Minn. R. 9800.0900, subp. 1 in holding that issues raised in the notice of appeal but not addressed in the appellate brief are considered waived, and would not be decided by the court.