DENNIS E. CORBIN, Employee/Appellant, v. REMINGTON BUILDERS, and MARP/RTW, INC., Employer-Insurer, and RTL CONSTR., INC., and ACUITY GROUP, Employer-Insurer, and TWIN CITY CARPENTERS & JOINERS HEALTH & WELFARE FUND, Intervenors.
WORKERS’ COMPENSATION COURT OF APPEALS
APRIL 21, 2009
APPEALS - INTERLOCUTORY ORDER; JURISDICTION - SUBJECT MATTER. The Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals lacks subject matter jurisdiction over an appeal from a discovery order requiring the employee to provide authorizations for the disclosure of certain medical records.
Determined by: Stofferahn, J., Wilson, J., and Pederson, J.
Compensation Judge: Paul V. Rieke
Attorneys: Richard C. Lund, Law Office of Donald F. Noack, Mound, MN, for the Appellant. Mark A. Kleinschmidt, Cousineau McGuire, Minneapolis, MN, for the Respondent, Remington Builders/ MARP/RTW, Inc. Raymond J. Benning, Arthur, Chapman, Kettering, Smetak & Pikala, Minneapolis, MN, for the Respondents, RTL Construction/Acuity Group.
DAVID A. STOFFERAHN, Judge
The employee appeals from an Order Compelling Discovery issued February 19, 2009, and from an Order Denying Motion for Reconsideration issued March 11, 2009. Employer, Remington Builders, and its insurer, MARP/RTW, Inc., have filed a motion to dismiss the appeal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The appeal is dismissed.
The employee filed a claim petition in October 2008, seeking various workers’ compensation benefits as a result of injuries on July 25, 1986, and July 29, 2004. The 1986 employer, Remington Builders, and its insurer, MARP/RTW, Inc., served the employee with a demand for discovery, including authorizations to release medical records from the Veterans Administration Medical Center. The employee refused to sign the medical authorizations and the employer and insurer filed a motion to compel discovery. In an order filed February 19, 2009, the compensation judge ordered the authorizations to be signed and further ordered that records obtained through the use of the authorizations were to be disclosed only in conjunction with the pending claim.
The employee filed a motion for reconsideration of the order and in an order issued March 11, 2009, the motion for reconsideration was denied. The employee has appealed from both orders.
The jurisdiction of this court is set by Minn. Stat. § 176.421, subd. 1, which provides for an appeal from an award or disallowance of compensation or from an “order affecting the merits of the case.” This court has held that orders dealing with discovery are interlocutory orders and are not appealable. Doty v. Lake States Tree Serv., No. WC07-219 (W.C.C.A. Jan. 8, 2008).
In his appeal, the employee acknowledges that the orders in this case are interlocutory and generally not appealable. He argues, however, that the issues in this case are ones of fundamental fairness and right to privacy and should be considered by this court nevertheless. In support of his argument, the employee cites to Nyland v. Economy Ready Mix, slip op. (W.C.C.A. July 10, 1985) in which this court considered an appeal from a compensation judge’s order allowing a second independent medical examination.
Subsequent to this court’s decision in Nyland, the Minnesota Supreme Court issued its decision in Mierau v. Alcon Industries, 386 N.W.2d 741, 38 W.C.D. 652 (Minn. 1986), holding that the Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals lacks subject matter jurisdiction to consider an appeal from a compensation judge’s order on discovery. As a general rule, only an order which finally determines rights of the parties and concludes the action is appealable. Zizak v. Despatch Indus., Inc., 427 N.W.2d 755, 756 (Minn. App. 1988). As the employer and insurer have pointed out in their motion to dismiss, the facts in the present case are virtually identical to those in Doty and we are compelled to recognize that, as in Doty, this court does not have jurisdiction to consider the employee’s appeal. The appeal is dismissed.