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Gianotti v. Independent School District 152 and RAM Mutual Insurance Co.

Supreme Court of Minnesota

February 8, 2017

Ellen Gianotti, Respondent,
v.
Independent School District 152 and RAM Mutual Insurance Co., Relators, and Sanford Health, Essentia Health Systems, Injured Workers Pharmacy, and Onword Therapy, Intervenors.

         Workers' Compensation Court of Appeals Office of Appellate Courts

          James W. Balmer, Falsani, Balmer, Peterson, Quinn & Beyer, Duluth, Minnesota, for respondent.

          Howard Y. Held, William R. Moody, Fitch, Johnson, Larson & Held, P.A., Minneapolis, Minnesota, for relators.

         SYLLABUS

         1. The Workers' Compensation Court of Appeals (WCCA) erred when it ruled on the forfeited issue of whether a psychologist was competent to provide an expert opinion.

         2. The WCCA erred when it reversed the compensation judge's determination that there was an adequate factual foundation for the psychologist's opinion.

         3. The WCCA erred when it reversed the compensation judge's factual finding that respondent did not suffer a concussion and post-concussive syndrome.

         Reversed.

          OPINION

          LILLEHAUG, Justice.

         On October 7, 2014, respondent Ellen Gianotti was working as a school bus monitor for relator Independent School District 152 when the bus in which she was riding, traveling at 15 miles per hour, unexpectedly braked. The sudden stop caused Gianotti to fall, strike the left side of her head on the bus's front console, and land on her left arm.

         Gianotti was taken to the hospital, where she reported pain in her head and left arm, but said she did not lose consciousness from the fall. A CT scan and X-rays were negative for symptoms of a concussion, and a medical report from Dr. Crider[1] said she had no such symptoms. Gianotti was diagnosed with a head injury and left arm contusion.

         Thereafter, Gianotti saw a series of health providers. We summarize those visits as follows:

• On October 8, 2014, Gianotti saw a second doctor, Dr. Kuhlmann, who noted that she "had no symptoms of concussion" and that she was alert and oriented.
• On October 9, 2014, Gianotti went to a third doctor, Dr. Sampson, with complaints of headaches, confusion, and trouble finding words. A CT scan was negative, but the medical notes stated that Gianotti's self-reported symptoms were "most consistent with post concussion syndrome."
• On October 14, 2014, Gianotti saw a fourth doctor, Dr. Sheldon, who wrote that Gianotti had post-concussive symptoms, and arranged for her to have a neuropsychological assessment.
• On October 23, 2014, Gianotti reported to a health clinic with complaints of dark nasal discharge for five days. Gianotti was unable to replicate ...

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