Zenu Mokonnen v. Masterson Staffing Sols.

Zenu Mokonnen v. Masterson Staffing Sols. No. WC22-6466 (WCCA October 28, 2022)

Employee appealed a decision dismissing her new claim petition after a stipulation which included a full, final, and complete settlement of all claims including all past, present, and future medical was filed on a previous claim petition.

Employee claimed a Gillette injury culminating on September 3, 2020. Employer and Insurer denied the injury, and litigation followed into 2021. On June 28, 2021, parties participated in a settlement conference and agreed to settle the matter. A notice of case settlement was filed on June 29, 2021. A stipulation was fully executed on August 3, 2021, and an Award of Stipulation was served and filed on August 9, 2021.

Between the time of the settlement notice and Award of Stipulation Employee sought medical treatment twice. Employee attended appointments with HealthPartners Clinics on June 29, 2021, and Park Nicollet on July 1, 2021. Employee did not inform either her attorney nor the Employer or Insurer of her healthcare visits. In an email dated July 2, 2021, HealthPartners noted that it had no interest in the parties’ settlement. Neither Employee nor her Attorney notified the Compensation Judge of the new bills.

Employee filed a new claim petition November 2, 2021 for the outstanding bills from HealthPartners and Park Nicolette. Employer and Insurer subsequently filed a motion to dismiss on November 3, 2021. A telephone conference was held on February 7, 2022, and the Judge subsequently dismissed the case on April 19, 2022. Employee appealed.

Employee posited three arguments on appeal. First, Employee claimed that she was entitled to an evidentiary hearing. Second, that the Judge’s dismissal was untimely. Third, that the judge erred in dismissing the claim. The WCCA found none of the Employee’s arguments persuasive.

The WCCA rejected the idea that a motion to dismiss required a formal hearing. The WCCA noted that a formal hearing is necessary when there are factual issues that must be resolved to determine the merits of the case. There were no disputed facts in the new claim, so dismissal was warranted.

The WCCA rejected the idea that the claim could not be dismissed because the order came about more than 60 days after the hearing. The WCCA noted that the statute’s purpose is to promote prompt determinations, not to provide a remedy to a party.

The WCCA rejected that the Compensation Judge dismissed the claim petition improperly. The WCCA noted that there was a full, final, and complete settlement with all past, present, and future medical benefits closed. The claimed medical benefits fell under that settlement, so Employee had no actionable claim.

Takeaway: When Employee agrees to a full final and complete settlement, including future medical, and receives medical treatment between the settlement agreement and the signing of the stipulation, Employee cannot then file a new claim and be paid out for said treatment.