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EN BANC CALENDAR

Before the Minnesota Supreme Court

April 2017

SUMMARY OF ISSUES

Summaries prepared by the Supreme Court Commissioner’s Office

Monday, April 3, 2017

Supreme Court Courtroom, State Capitol Building, Second Floor

 

Debra K. Mattick, Respondent, vs. Hy-Vee Foods Stores, Self-Insured/EMC Risk Services, Inc., Relators, and Mayo Clinic and Hartford Life, Intervenors – Case No. A16-1802: Respondent-employee Debra Mattick broke her ankle in 2000, before she began working for relator Hy-Vee Food Stores. Following surgeries and therapy, Mattick returned to her usual activities. In 2013, and again in 2014, while working at Hy-Vee, she tripped at work and twisted her ankle. Degenerative arthritis was diagnosed in the injured ankle. In January 2015, Mattick filed a claim petition requesting approval for ankle-fusion surgery. She had the surgery in August 2015. A compensation judge denied Mattick’s claim petition, finding that the 2014 injury was not a significant or substantial contributing factor to the need for surgery because the injury did not aggravate or accelerate Mattick’s pre-existing arthritis condition.

 

A divided panel of the Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals (“WCCA”) reversed. The majority considered the aggravation issue in light of the six-factor test established in McClellan v. Up North Plastics, 1994 WL 640356 (Minn. WCCA Oct. 18, 1994), and concluded that five of the six factors supported a finding that Mattick’s 2014 injury aggravated her underlying arthritis condition and that the compensation judge erred in relying on the opinion of Hy-Vee’s medical examiner. The dissent concluded that the record as a whole supported either party’s position and that the majority had failed to accord sufficient deference to the compensation judge.

 

On appeal to the supreme court, the issue presented is whether the WCCA exceeded its standard of review when the record contains conflicting medical opinions and the compensation judge made credibility determinations. (Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals)

 

State of Minnesota, Respondent, vs. Chantel Lynn Carson, Appellant – Case No. A15-1678: On three occasions, the police found appellant Chantel Carson either passed out or slouched in the driver’s seat of her car. Each time, the police found at least one can of gas duster in Carson’s car. Subsequent tests of Carson’s blood revealed the presence of 1,1–difluoroethane (“DFE”) and clonazepam.

 

In three separate cases, respondent State of Minnesota charged Carson with two counts of third-degree driving while impaired (“DWI”), one for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of a hazardous substance and one for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of a controlled substance. Carson filed a motion to dismiss all three complaints, claiming, in part, that there was insufficient proof that she was under the influence of a hazardous substance.

 

During a contested omnibus hearing, a forensic scientist testified that DFE is “a propellant commonly seen in cans . . . usually found in products used to clean [computer] keyboards.” The scientist explained the DFE is commonly abused as an inhalant; that inhaling DFE will produce a rapid high; and that DFE is flammable, can cause injury if inhaled, and that the can is under pressure. The district court found that DFE is a hazardous substance and denied Carson’s motion to dismiss. Following a stipulated-facts trial on the three hazardous-substance DWI counts, the district court found Carson guilty. The court of appeals affirmed.

 

On appeal to the supreme court, the issue presented is whether DFE is a hazardous substance as defined by Minn. Stat. § 169A.03, subd. 9 (2016). (Steele County)

 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

University of St. Thomas School of Law

 

State of Minnesota, Appellant, vs. Minnesota School of Business, Inc., d/b/a Minnesota School of Business, et al., Respondents – Case No. A16-0239: Appellant State of Minnesota brought suit against respondents Minnesota School of Business and Globe University. Among other claims, the State asserted that the private educational loans offered by the schools, which carried interest rates as high as 18 percent, are usurious and that the schools were engaged in unlicensed lending in violation of the Minnesota Regulated Loan Act, Minn. Stat. §§ 56.001–.26 (2016). The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the schools on the two lending claims. The court of appeals affirmed the dismissal of both claims, concluding that the loans are not usurious because they are “open end credit plans” under Minn. Stat. § 334.16 (2016) and that the schools were “not engaged in unlicensed lending” under Minn. Stat. § 56.01.

 

On appeal to the supreme court, the following issues are presented: (1) whether the loans are subject to the 8 percent usury rate for loans under Minn. Stat. § 334.01 (2016) or the 18 percent usury rate for “open end credit” under Minn. Stat. § 334.16; and (2) whether Minn. Stat. § 56.01(a) requires the schools to be licensed by the Commissioner of Commerce in order to engage in the business of making loans and charge an interest rate permitted by state law, or whether the statute requires licensure by the Commissioner only if the lender charges an interest rate greater than the rate otherwise permitted by law. (Hennepin County)

 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Nonoral: Victoria C. Giles, Relator, vs. Montu Staffing Solutions, Respondent, and Fairview Health Services and Minneapolis Orthopaedics, Intervenors – Case No. A16-1389: The compensation judge awarded relator-employee Victoria Giles temporary total disability benefits (“TTD”) for a work-related knee injury, but denied her claim for benefits for a shoulder injury. The employer, respondent Montu Staffing, appealed the TTD issue, and Giles cross-appealed to challenge the wage used to calculate the TTD benefit and the denial of her claim for the shoulder injury. The Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals (“WCCA”) affirmed the compensation judge’s decision, amending the findings to correctly reflect Montu’s status as a self-insured employer.

On appeal to the supreme court, the issue presented is whether the WCCA erred in affirming the compensation judge. (Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals)

Nonoral: Javier Sotelo Cantu, Relator, vs. C.R. Fischer & Sons, Inc. and Cincinnati Insurance Company, Respondents, and Calhoun Chiropractic Clinic, Minneapolis Orthopaedics Ltd., Minn. Dept. of Labor & Industry/BVRU, Noran Neurological Clinic, and UCare, Intervenors – Case No. A16-1560: Relator-employee Javier Cantu and respondent-employer C.R. Fischer & Sons, Inc. agreed to settle Cantu’s claim for benefits for a work-related injury. The settlement terms were incorporated into a Stipulation for Settlement, which was confirmed by the compensation judge’s award on settlement. In September 2016, the Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals (“WCCA”) denied Cantu’s petition to vacate the stipulated settlement.

On appeal to the supreme court, the issue presented is whether the WCCA erred in denying the petition to vacate. (Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals)

 

Monday, April 10, 2017

Courtroom 300, Minnesota Judicial Center

 

In re Petition for Disciplinary Action against Randall D. Tigue, a Minnesota Attorney, Registration No. 0110000 – Case No. A16-0694: An attorney discipline case that presents the question of what discipline, if any, is appropriate based on the facts of the matter.

 

In re Petition for Disciplinary Action against Geoffrey R. Saltzstein, a Minnesota Attorney, Registration No. 0390484 – Case No. A16-1308: An attorney discipline case that presents the question of what discipline, if any, is appropriate based on the facts of the matter.

 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Courtroom 300, Minnesota Judicial Center

 

In re Petition for Disciplinary Action against Terri Lynn Fahrenholtz, a Minnesota Attorney, Registration No. 0290828 – Case No. A15-1227: An attorney discipline case that presents the question of what discipline, if any, is appropriate based on the facts of the matter.

 

Nonoral: Eddie Hudson, Respondent, vs. Trillium Staffing and XL Insurance, with Claims Administered by CorVel Corporation, Relators, and Medica Health Plans/Optum, et al., Intervenors – Case No. A16-2017: Respondent-employee Eddie Hudson and relator-employer Trillium Staffing agreed to settle Hudson’s claims for benefits for a work-related injury. The settlement terms were incorporated into a Stipulation for Settlement, which was confirmed by the compensation judge’s award on stipulation. In November 2016, the Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals (“WCCA”) granted Hudson’s petition to vacate and set aside the agreed-upon award.

 

On appeal to the supreme court, the issue presented is whether the WCCA erred in granting the petition to vacate. (Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals)