Reich v. F&S Constr., 102104 MNWC, WC04-133

Docket Nº:WC04-133
Case Date:October 21, 2004
Court:Minnesota
 
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JOSEPH REICH, Employee/Appellant,
v.
F&S CONSTR. and EMPLOYERS INS. CO. OF WAUSAU, Employer-Insurer/Respondent,
and
ADVANTAGE COATING and AQUITY, Employer-Insurer,
and
ALLINA/PHILLIPS EYE INST., Intervenor.
NO. WC04-133
Minnesota Workers Compensation
Workers' Compensation Court of Appeals
October 21, 2004
         HEADNOTES          PRACTICE & PROCEDURE - STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS; STATUTES CONSTRUED - MINN. Stat. § 176.151. Where the compensation judge expressly credited the employee's testimony that the employer's owner had assured him that the bills for treatment for his work injury would be paid, where the employee was justified in relying on the owner's statements, and because other than for payment of his medical expenses the employee had had no reason to file a claim for benefits at the time of his work injury, the employer and insurer were estopped from pleading the statute of limitations as a defense, and the compensation judge erred in denying benefits based on the statute of limitations.          MEDICAL TREATMENT & EXPENSE; INTERVENORS. Where there was no dispute over the fact that the treatment at issue was reasonable and necessary and causally related to the work injury, and where the employee had made a direct claim for payment of the treatment expenses at issue, the compensation judge's order denying payment of the treatment expenses at issue was reversed, notwithstanding the fact that several of the providers involved and one third party payor of the employee's medical bills had not formally intervened in the case.          Reversed.           Attorneys: Carl J. Sommerer, Minneapolis, MN, for the Appellant.           Sarah E. Groskreutz, Conley Law Office, St. Paul, MN, for the Respondent.           Determined by: Pederson, J., Johnson, C.J., and Wilson, J.           Compensation Judge: Paul V. Rieke           OPINION           WILLIAM R. PEDERSON, Judge.          The employee appeals from the compensation judge's determination that the employee's claim for workers' compensation benefits relating to a work injury of December 17, 1986, is barred by the statute of limitations and from the judge's implicit denial of medical expenses claimed by the employee. We reverse.          BACKGROUND          On December 17, 1986, Joseph Reich [the employee] sustained an injury to his left eye while working for F & S Construction [the employer], which was insured on that date by Employers Insurance of Wausau [Wausau]. The employee was nailing siding at a townhouse project when a nail flew up and struck him in the left eye. The employee evidently notified one of the owners of the employer, Peter Seamons, of his injury, and the following day he sought medical treatment at Park Nicollet Medical Center.          The employee was seen by Dr. A. E. Sadowsky, who obtained a history of the work injury and diagnosed a conjunctival laceration of the left eye and an inferior retinal dialysis. The employee was referred immediately to Dr. William Mestrezat, who performed a laser retinopexy. The employee lost only a day or two of work as a result of the injury and was able to return to his regular job duties with no limitations regarding his left eye. The left eye subsequently returned to 20/20 uncorrected vision, and the employee was not required to wear eyeglasses. The employee had no further problems with his left eye until 2001.           In late October 2001, the employee developed a partial loss of vision in his left eye, and on November 1, 2001, he sought medical attention at Mound Eye Clinic. He was immediately referred to the Phillips Eye Institute, where he came under the care of Dr. Sundeep Dev of Vitreo Retinal Surgery, P.A. On November 2, 2001, Dr. Dev diagnosed an inferior chronic traction retinal detachment of the left eye and performed a repair of the retinal detachment. Following...

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