Meuser, Yackley & Rowland, P.A., has been busy litigating first responder PTSD cases. Several of these cases have addressed significant legal issues, and a number of these cases are making their way up through the Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals and the Minnesota Supreme Court. Here are the latest developments:
Juntunen v. Carlton County
Dan Harrison of Meuser, Yackley & Rowland, P.A., tried a case on behalf of a Carlton County Deputy Sheriff who had been diagnosed with work-related PTSD. The County denied the case, arguing that his condition was not PTSD, based on their adverse expert opinion. The trial court judge found the County’s expert more persuasive than the experts and treating physicians of the Deputy Sheriff. The judge also interpreted the 2019 presumption statute and held that the presumption requires a first responder to first prove he or she has PTSD in order to be presumed to have PTSD. Dan Harrison and Lindsey Rowland of Meuser, Yackley & Rowland, P.A., appealed this decision to the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals, arguing that the judge improperly applied the 2019 presumption.
On appeal, the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals reversed the trial judge and found in favor of the Deputy Sheriff. The WCCA found that the trial judge improperly applied the 2019 presumption. The Court found that the Deputy Sheriff had a compensable post-traumatic stress disorder injury as a matter of law and remanded the case to the trial judge for findings regarding eligibility for benefits. Minnesota Counties Insurance Trust – the workers’ compensation insurer – appealed this decision to the Minnesota Supreme Court. Stay tuned for updates on this important case.
Chrz v. Mower County
Jen Yackley of Meuser, Yackley & Rowland, P.A., won a trial decision on behalf of a Mower County Deputy Sheriff who was diagnosed with work-related PTSD. The employer/insurer argued that the employee’s condition was not PTSD, and that his mental health symptoms were due to personal stressors. In this case, the Deputy Sheriff’s symptoms had improved significantly by the time of trial, even though he continued to experience ongoing issues, and he remained restricted from working in law enforcement. The County argued that because of his improvement in symptoms, he had achieved “remission,” and that he was no longer eligible for benefits due to the improvement in his symptoms. The trial judge rejected that argument and awarded ongoing benefits to the Deputy Sheriff. Minnesota Counties Insurance Trust – the insurer – appealed this decision to the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals arguing that if any of a person’s PTSD symptoms improve to the point that they no longer “meet threshold” for a full PTSD diagnosis, that they are no longer eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Oral arguments on this case were recently held at the WCCA, and they can be watched here. Stay tuned for the decision in the next few months.
“John Doe” v. City of Minneapolis
Samantha Steward of Meuser, Yackley & Rowland, P.A., won a trial court decision on behalf of a Minneapolis Police Officer suffering from work-related PTSD. This officer had experienced numerous traumatic events during his career, including, but not limited to the Minneapolis riots in 2020 following the death of George Floyd. The City outright denied his claim. The City’s expert attempted to argue that this gentleman’s symptoms could be caused by various substance abuse issues. The judge applied the 2019 presumption to this case, as defined in Juntunen, and found the employee’s experts and treating medical providers more persuasive than the City’s expert. The judge found that this officer does in fact have work-related post-traumatic stress disorder and ordered the City to pay him over $70,000 in back pay, plus ongoing benefits. The City did not appeal this decision.
Meuser, Yackley & Rowland, P.A., continues to lead the way in litigating complex issues of law regarding post-traumatic stress disorder. Contact us for a free, confidential consultation with one of our experienced attorneys. Call us at 1-877-746-5680.