Congratulations to George W. Kuehner who prevailed at the Supreme Court in Allan v R.D. Offutt Co, (A14-1555, Aug 31, 2015). The decision substantially changes the nature of the threshold requirement an employee must reach before being permitted to assert a workers’ compensation claim for permanent total disability.
The Supreme Court reversed the WCCA and held that the permanent partial disability rating threshold for bringing a permanent total disability claim (Minn Stat. 176.101 subd 5 (2)) can only utilize ratings that represent a condition that affects the employee’s ability to find and hold a job. In Allan, the employee attempted to reach the threshold by utilizing a 10% rating for the pre-existing loss of all teeth where the use of dentures replaced the functional loss of the teeth and there was no evidence that the loss of teeth affected his ability to secure employment. The court adopted Mr Kuehner’s argument that the statute clearly requires that the condition(s) represented by the required threshold ratings must combine with the employee’s disability to cause the employee’s permanent total disability. Ratings representing conditions not impairing an employees vocational capabilities cannot be utilized to reach the required threshold.