Saturday, June 09, 2007

District Court can't deny worker compensation insurer just because local attorneys want to keep more money from a third party settlement. Nebraska Supreme Court rules that under 48-118, equitable estoppel may not deny worker compensation insurer subrogation in third party claim. Burns v. Nielsen, S-06-030Fedex carrier was injured while delivering a package to a customer's home. During the worker compensation litigation Fedex disputed some compensation and medical treatment, but later settled the case. The employee then settled a large injury claim with the property owner from where he fell. The district court denied Fedex any subrogation on equitable principles because it disapproved of the way Fedex handled the worker compensation case. Supreme Court reverses. "the district court’s duty under § 48-118.04 to “order a fair and equitable distribution of the proceeds of any judgment or settlement” simply requires the court to determine a reasonable division of the proceeds among the parties. The court in this case erred in applying equitable principles to bar FedEx from recovering any of its subrogation interest."

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