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Hudson v. Trillium Staffing and XL Insurance

Supreme Court of Minnesota

June 7, 2017

Eddie Hudson, Respondent,
v.
Trillium Staffing and XL Insurance, with Claims Administered by CorVel Corporation, Relators, and Medica Health Plans/Optum, Center for Diagnostic Imaging, Hennepin County Medical Center & Physicians, Park Nicollet Health Services, and Park Nicollet Methodist Hospital, Intervenors.

         Office of Appellate Courts Workers' Compensation Court of Appeals

          Eddie Hudson, Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, pro se.

          Douglas J. Brown, Brown & Carlson, P.A., Minneapolis, Minnesota, for relators.

         SYLLABUS

         The Workers' Compensation Court of Appeals abused its discretion when it set aside the respondent's stipulated award of benefits based on an expert medical opinion that lacked foundation.

         Reversed.

         Considered and decided by the court without oral argument.

          OPINION

          STRAS, Justice.

         This case requires us to determine whether the Workers' Compensation Court of Appeals (WCCA) erred in granting respondent Eddie Hudson's petition to vacate an award of workers' compensation benefits. Hudson, who was injured while working for Trillium Staffing, filed a workers' compensation claim that the parties later settled. About a year after the settlement, Hudson filed a petition to vacate the award with the WCCA, which granted Hudson's petition on the ground that his medical condition had substantially changed in a way that clearly was not, and could not reasonably have been, anticipated. Because the medical opinion underlying the WCCA's decision lacked foundation, we reverse.

         FACTS

         The essential facts in this case are undisputed. On April 16, 2014, respondent Eddie Hudson was injured in the course of his employment with Trillium Staffing when the semitrailer truck that he was driving jackknifed and veered into a ditch. Hudson was treated for three general categories of injuries after the crash: (1) injuries to his neck and low back; (2) a traumatic brain injury; and (3) psychological injuries.

         For his neck and low-back injuries, Hudson was treated by Dr. Victor Van Hee, who diagnosed neck and low-back strains. Dr. Van Hee assigned a permanent partial disability (PPD)[1] rating of 12% and 10% for the low-back and neck strains, respectively, and a PPD rating of 21% for the whole body. He noted, however, that the whole-body PPD rating he assigned did not include the concussion that Hudson had suffered, which was within the purview of another doctor.

         Hudson was treated by a team led by Dr. Sarah Rockswold for the traumatic brain injury, which included such symptoms as photosensitivity and headaches. Based on Hudson's recovery, she assigned a 0% PPD rating for the traumatic brain injury, noting that a PPD rating for the psychological injuries would need to be assigned later.

         Finally, for the psychological injuries, Hudson was treated by Dr. Jane Roskowski, a member of Dr. Rockswold's treatment team. Dr. Roskowski diagnosed Hudson with an adjustment disorder with mixed depression and anxiety, but was unable to assign a PPD rating because their therapeutic relationship ended before she could do so. Hudson also underwent neuropsychological testing ...


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