Garner v. Mobile Washer, et. al.

Garner v. Mobile Washer, et. al., No. WC12-5441 (W.C.C.A. Dec. 4, 2012)

This case is very good for Employers and Insurers because it supports the case law that denies an employee temporary total benefits during a period of incarceration. The employee had an admitted right ankle injury and the employer and insurer paid for multiple surgeries and wage loss benefits prior to the employee being incarcerated at Lino Lakes Correctional Facility. He even had a subsequent surgery while incarcerated.

The employer and insurer filed a petition to discontinue benefits alleging his incarceration constitutes a withdrawal from the labor market pursuant to Minn. Stat. §176.101 Subd. 1(f), but the compensation judge denied the petition because the employee’s removal from the labor market was primarily because of his medical condition after injury and surgery.

On appeal, the W.C.C.A. overturned the compensation judge and found that this issue has been considered in Hutchins v. Champion Int’l Corp. and what matters most is that incarceration is a withdrawal from the labor market regardless of the employee’s work restrictions or being totally disabled to work medically – even after surgery.

This case reiterates a bright-line rule that an incarceration of the employee – who otherwise might be able to claim wage loss benefits – is a withdrawal from the labor market plain and simple and discontinuance is appropriate.