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EN BANC CALENDAR

Before the Minnesota Supreme Court

December 2016

SUMMARY OF ISSUES

Summaries prepared by the Supreme Court Commissioner’s Office

Monday, November 28, 2016

Courtroom 300, Minnesota Judicial Center

 

Ellen Gianotti, Respondent, vs. Independent School District 152 and Ram Mutual Insurance Co, Relators, Sanford Health, Essentia Health Systems, Injured Workers Pharmacy, and Onword Therapy, Intervenors – Case No. A16-0629: Respondent-employee Ellen Gianotti suffered a work-related injury when the bus on which she was working as a monitor suddenly braked and she fell. The employer, Independent School District 152, petitioned to discontinue temporary total disability (TTD) benefits. The compensation judge, relying on expert testimony offered by the School District, allowed the employer to discontinue payment of TTD benefits and denied the employee’s claim for payment of additional medical expenses. The Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals (WCCA) reversed

On appeal to the supreme court, the issues presented are: (1) whether the WCCA erred in reversing the compensation judge on the issue of an expert’s competency; and (2) whether the WCCA erred in reversing the compensation judge’s findings on the employee’s claimed injuries. (Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals)

Madison Equities, Inc., Appellant, vs. Robert L. Crockarell, Respondent – Case No. A16-0769: Appellant Madison Equities sued respondent Robert Crockarell for an unpaid loan. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of appellant, awarding damages and attorney fees. Separately, respondent sued appellant and a group of other parties on unrelated claims. Respondent moved the district court to stay entry of judgment pending mediation in the separate litigation. The district court granted the stay, noting the common interest and common parties in the two cases and the possibility that the mediation might encompass the claims between appellant and respondent.

Appellant then petitioned the court of appeals for a writ of mandamus to compel the district court to lift the stay and enter judgment in its favor. The court of appeals denied the writ petition.

On appeal to the supreme court, the issues presented are: (1) whether the stay was authorized under the Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure or the court’s inherent authority; and (2) whether a writ of mandamus should have issued. (Ramsey County)

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Courtroom 300, Minnesota Judicial Center

 

Scott Peterson, Respondent, Roger Smith, Plaintiff vs. City of Minneapolis, Minnesota, Appellant – Case No. A15-1711: Respondent Scott Peterson served as a police officer for appellant City of Minneapolis. In November 2011, Peterson filed a complaint with the City’s human resources department, claiming that a recent job transfer was the result of age discrimination in violation of the City’s “Respect in the Workplace Policy.” In January 2013, following an investigation, the human resources department concluded that the transfer was not based on Peterson’s age. In June 2013, Peterson filed a discrimination complaint with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, but eventually withdrew the complaint and commenced a district court action alleging age discrimination in March 2014. The district court concluded that the age discrimination claim was time-barred under the 1-year statute of limitations in the Minnesota Human Rights Act. Minn. Stat. § 363A.28, subd. 3 (2014). The court of appeals reversed.

On appeal to the supreme court, the issue presented is whether an internal investigation under the City’s workplace-respect policy constitutes a voluntary “dispute resolution process” within the meaning of Minn. Stat. § 363A.28, subd. 3 (2014), sufficient to toll the statute of limitations in the Minnesota Human Rights Act. (Hennepin County)

Nonoral: Germaine F. Harmon, Relator, vs. Commissioner of Revenue, Respondent – Case No. A16-0973: The Commissioner of Revenue assessed Germaine Harmon with tax, penalties, and interest based on a gain reported on a Schedule K-1 that was issued following the termination of a partnership in which she held an interest. Harmon appealed the assessment to the tax court. On cross-motions for summary judgment, the tax court concluded that the Commissioner is entitled to rely on available information in assessing a tax liability, Minn. Stat. § 270C.04 (2014), including information reported on a K-1. In the absence of any other evidence that brought the income reported on the K-1 into question, the tax court affirmed the Commissioner’s assessment.

On appeal to the supreme court, the issue presented is whether the Commissioner or the tax court was entitled to rely on the K-1 or should have awaited the result of federal proceedings regarding the partnership tax liability. (Minnesota Tax Court)

Monday, December 5, 2016

Courtroom 300, Minnesota Judicial Center

 

Anibal Sanchez, Respondent, vs. Dahlke Trailer Sales, Inc., Appellant – Case No. A15-1183: Respondent Anibal Sanchez began working for appellant Dahlke Trailer Sales in 2005. In 2013 Sanchez was injured on the job and filed a workers’ compensation claim. As part of the workers’ compensation proceedings, Sanchez was deposed. In his deposition, he testified that he is not eligible to work in the United States. Dahlke placed Sanchez on an unpaid leave of absence until he was able to establish his eligibility to work. Sanchez eventually settled his workers’ compensation claim.

Sanchez sued Dahlke, alleging that he was terminated from employment because he filed a worker’s compensation claim, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 176.82 (2014). The district court granted summary judgment to Dahlke, concluding that placing an undocumented immigrant on leave until he can establish authorization to work is not an adverse employment action for purposes of the workers’ compensation retaliation law. The court of appeals reversed and remanded.

On appeal to the supreme court, the issues presented are: (1) whether Dahlke’s actions in placing Sanchez on leave until he could establish eligibility to work are actionable under the workers’ compensation retaliation law; and (2) whether federal immigration law precludes Sanchez from pursuing his claim. (Anoka County)

In re Petition for Disciplinary Action against Jesse David Matson, a Minnesota Attorney, Registration No. 0389131 – Case No. A16-0137: An attorney discipline matter that presents the question of what discipline, if any, is appropriate based on the facts of the matter.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016, 2016

Courtroom 300, Minnesota Judicial Center

 

Julie D. Halvorson, Respondent, vs. B&F Fastener Supply and Selective Insurance Group, Relators – Case No. A16‑0920: Respondent-employee Julie Halvorson worked for relator B&F Fastener Supply until March 2007, when she suffered work-related injuries; she cannot return to the job she held at the time of her injury or to another job with the employer. Approximately 3 years after her injury, the employee found other, part-time work. In February 2015, the employer filed a Rehabilitation Request, asking the compensation judge to find that the employee is no longer a “qualified employee” for purposes of rehabilitation services, see Minn. R. 5220.0100, subp. 22 (2015), and was not entitled to rehabilitation services because she had returned to suitable gainful employment. The compensation judge granted the employer’s request. The Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals reversed.

On appeal to the supreme court, the issues presented are: (1) whether the compensation judge properly considered if the employee would benefit from further rehabilitation services; (2) whether Minn. Stat. § 176.102, subd. 8 (2014), establishes the standard for termination of rehabilitation services; and (3) whether substantial evidence supports the compensation judge’s finding that the employee had returned to suitable gainful employment. (Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals)

Shannon Gilbertson, Respondent, vs. Williams Dingmann, LLC, United Fire & Casualty Group, Relators, PAR, Inc., Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Minnesota, Intervenors – Case No. A16-0895: Respondent-employee Shannon Gilbertson worked for employer Williams Dingmann as a funeral director until she submitted her resignation on September 26, 2011, effective December 31, 2011. The employee suffered a work-related injury on October 13, 2011, and did not return to work for the employer. In June 2012, the employer offered the employee a funeral-director position at a different location. The employee declined this offer because her rehabilitation plan had a return-to-work goal with a different employer in the same industry. The employer filed a Notice of Intent to Discontinue employee’s benefits based on the refusal of a job offer that would provide gainful employment within the employee’s limitations. The compensation judge allowed the employer to discontinue benefits after finding that the employee refused suitable gainful employment and the employee’s goal of returning to work with a different employer in the same industry was based on a personal preference related to work conditions, rather than the work-related injury. The Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals reversed.

On appeal to the supreme court, the issue presented is whether the employer’s job offer was consistent with the employee’s plan of rehabilitation such that refusing the job offer allowed discontinuance of temporary total disability benefits under Minn. Stat. § 176.101, subd. 1(i) (2014). (Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals)

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Courtroom 300, Minnesota Judicial Center

 

State of Minnesota, Appellant, vs. Carlos Maurice Harris, Respondent – Case No. A15-0711: Respondent Carlos Maurice Harris was driving his brother’s car when it was stopped by law enforcement officers. After respondent and his two passengers were secured in squad cars, an officer looked inside the vehicle and saw a firearm tucked into the lining of the roof, just behind the sunroof. Appellant State of Minnesota charged respondent with possession of a firearm by an ineligible person, Minn. Stat. § 624.713, subd. 1(2) (2012). A jury found respondent guilty and the court sentenced him to 60 months in prison. The court of appeals reversed respondent’s conviction.

On appeal to the supreme court, the issues presented are: (1) whether the court of appeals erred when it held that the evidence was insufficient to support respondent’s conviction; and (2) whether the supreme court should abandon its two-step analytical framework for reviewing claims of insufficiency of the evidence where a conviction rests on circumstantial evidence. (Hennepin County)

Nonoral: Commissioner of Revenue, Relator, vs. Yik C. Lo, Respondent – Case No. A16-0918: The Commissioner of Revenue assessed Yik Lo, the president and treasurer of HKD Lo, Inc., with personal liability for the corporation’s unpaid sales tax liability, under Minn. Stat. § 270C.56, subd. 1 (2014) (“A person who, either singly or jointly with others, has the control of, supervision of, or responsibility for” collecting or paying taxes and fails to do so, “is liable for the payment of [those] taxes.”). Following a trial, the tax court concluded that only a person with a significant functional role, as opposed to bare formal authority, can be held personally liable under section 270C.56. Then, because Lo played only a slight functional role in the corporation’s operations, the tax court reversed the commissioner’s assessment of personal liability.

On appeal to the supreme court, the issue presented is whether respondent Lo is personally liable for the corporation’s unpaid tax liability under Minn. Stat. § 270C.56 or the five-factor test in Benoit v. Commissioner of Revenue, 453 N.W.2d 336 (Minn. 1990). (Minnesota Tax Court)

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Courtroom 300, Minnesota Judicial Center

 

Nonoral: Larry Demetrius Pearson, Appellant, vs. State of Minnesota, Respondent – Case No. A16-0882: Following a jury trial, appellant Larry Pearson was convicted of first-degree premeditated murder and sentenced to life without the possibility of release. Pearson filed a direct appeal, which was stayed to allow him to pursue postconviction relief. After the postconviction court denied Pearson’s petition, he filed a postconviction appeal. In a consolidated appeal, the supreme court affirmed Pearson’s conviction and the denial of postconviction relief. Five years later, Pearson filed a second petition for postconviction relief, which was denied.

On appeal to the supreme court, the issues presented are: (1) did the postconviction court err when it denied Pearson’s claim of newly discovered evidence, following an evidentiary hearing; (2) did the postconviction court err when it summarily denied Pearson’s claim of ineffective assistance of trial counsel; and (3) did the postconviction court err when it summarily denied Pearson’s claim of ineffective assistance of appellate counsel. (Ramsey County)