Frederick S. Fish, Appellant,
Ramler Trucking, Inc., defendant and third-party plaintiff, Respondent, Wells Concrete Products Company and Albany Manufacturing, Inc., Third-Party Defendants.
Stearns County District Court File No. 73-CV-15-10792
Wilson, Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Michel Steven Krug, Krug
& Zupke, P.C., St. Paul, Minnesota (for appellant)
E. Bentson, Law Offices of Thomas P. Stilp, Golden Valley,
Minnesota (for respondent)
J. Cragg, Eckland & Blando LLP, Minneapolis, Minnesota
(for amicus curiae Minnesota Association for Justice)
Considered and decided by Bjorkman, Presiding Judge; Worke,
Judge; and Klaphake, Judge. [*]
Stat. § 604.02 (2018) does not apply to reduce the
amount of a judgment entered against a third-party tortfeasor
based on the percentage of fault allocated to an employer
immune from tort liability under the workers'
compensation act. The contribution, if any, owed by the
employer to a third-party tortfeasor is determined under
Minn. Stat. § 176.061, subd. 11 (2018), and
Lambertson v. Cincinnati Welding Corp., 257 N.W.2d
679 (Minn. 1977).
appeal from judgment following a jury trial on
personal-injury claims arising out of a workplace accident,
appellant asserts that the district court erred by (1)
applying Minn. Stat. § 604.02 to reduce the judgment
entered against respondent based on the jury's allocation
of fault to appellant's employer, who is immune from tort
liability under the workers' compensation act and (2)
offsetting against the past wage-loss award part of a
lump-sum workers' compensation settlement received by
appellant. Because we agree that the district court erred in
both respects, we reverse and remand for recalculation of the
judgment to be entered against respondent.
Frederick Fish suffered workplace injuries while on loan by
his employer, Albany Manufacturing, Inc., to Wells Concrete
Productions Company (Wells). Fish was injured while working
aboard a flatbed trailer being pulled by a semi-tractor
driven by an employee of respondent Ramler Trucking, Inc.
Pursuant to the loaned-servant agreement, Albany's
insurer paid workers' compensation benefits to Fish. Fish
received 130 weeks of temporary total disability (TTD)
benefits totaling $48, 560.68. He also received $2, 245 in
permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits and $125, 744.18
in medical-expense benefits. And he settled the balance of
his workers' compensation claim for a lump sum of $79,
755 (the lump-sum settlement) and $13, 000 in attorney fees.
settling his workers' compensation claim, Fish sued
Ramler for negligence; Ramler brought a third-party action
against Albany and Wells. Ramler, Albany, and Albany's
insurer settled their respective contribution and subrogation
claims before trial in a "reverse-Naig"
case was tried to a jury, which found Wells, Ramler, and Fish
causally negligent and apportioned fault 75% to Wells, 20% to
Ramler, and 5% to Fish. The jury awarded damages of $125, 000
in past pain, disability, and emotional distress; $108, 288
in past health-care expenses; $105, 000 in lost wages; $72,
500 in future, pain, disability, and emotional distress; $16,
552.54 in future health-care expenses; and $100, 000 in loss
of earning capacity. Following the verdict, the district
court held a hearing and issued an order reducing the damages
awarded based on the amount of workers' compensation
benefits Fish received and calculating the judgment to be
entered against Ramler.
to this appeal, the district court offset against the $105,
000 past wage-loss award not only the $48, 560.68 in TTD
benefits and $2, 245 in PPD benefits Fish received, but also
$38, 101.08 of his lump-sum settlement, based on the district
court's calculation of TTD benefits Fish would have
received through the date of trial but for the
settlement.After reducing the damages awarded to
reflect workers' compensation payments, the district
court further reduced the awards by 5% based on Fish's
percentage of fault. From the remaining $278, ...