Christenson, Strobl Affirmed by Workers' Compensation Court of Appeals

Thomas ChristensonOn October 22, 2012, Quinlivan & Hughes, P.A. attorneys Tom Christenson and Garin Strobl were affirmed by the Workers' Compensation Court of Appeals. Mr. Christenson and Ms. Strobl represented the employer and insurer in a case involving an employee who alleged that she suffered significant permanent injuries after a four-year-old child bumped into her during school. The Compensation Judge adopted the expert opinion of the employer/insurer and found that the injuries that employee sustained from the incident had resolved by April 23, 2010. The employee subsequently appealed.

In their appellate brief, Mr. Christenson and Ms. Strobl successfully argued that the Compensation Judge was entitled to determine the validity of conflicting medical evidence under Nord v. City of Cook, 360 N.W.2d 337, 37 W.C.D. 364 (Minn. 1985). Further, they argued that it was irrelevant that the employee had a larger number of medical providers who found evidence of an ongoing injury related to the underlying accident. Finally, Mr. Christenson and Ms. Strobl argued that their expert's categorization of the injury did not tarnish the foundation of his opinion.

The Workers' Compensation Court of Appeals agreed and stated that the doctors "choice of words may have minimized that force of the injury, but the essential description of how the injury occurred is not significantly different from the description of the incident." Because the employer's/insurer's expert took a history from the employee, physically examined her, and reviewed her medical records prior to giving his opinion, the Workers' Compensation Court of Appeals affirmed the Compensation Judge's decision that he had adequate foundation on which to base his opinion, regardless of the multitude of experts who opined that the employee's injuries from the incident were permanent.

Finally, the employee argued that the Compensation Judge failed to comment upon the credibility of the employee when he rendered his decision. Mr. Christenson and Ms. Strobl again successfully argued that a comment on the employee's credibility was irrelevant to the Compensation Judge's decision to adopt the expert opinion of the employer/insurer.

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