Company Ordered to Pay Permanent Disability When Retraining Benefits Denied
In a ruling that could significantly impact laid off workers injured on the job, a workers' compensation judge ordered LTV Steel Mining Company and its insurer to pay a Biwabik resident permanent and total disability benefits when the company earlier refused to pay for retraining.
"My client was injured while working at LTV," said Michael F. Scully, a workers' compensation attorney. "Since then, LTV closed it doors. Given his injuries and the nature of the northern Minnesota economy, there is no suitable work available to my client without retraining. Therefore, we felt the company must pay disability even though my client missed the statutory application deadline for retraining benefits."
Our client operated an overhead crane for the now defunct LTV Steel Mining in Hoyt Lakes, Minnesota, when he severely injured his back. Upon returning to work after two surgeries, he was provided with light duty work. Two years later, LTV closed its doors permanently. Our client soon discovered that he would need retraining to get a job that paid wages and benefits comparable to his position with LTV. When he contacted LTV for help, he was turned down because he had not applied for retraining benefits within a 104-week time limit. "It's unfair for LTV to claim our client doesn't deserve retraining because of a statute that set an artificial deadline he did not meet," Scully said. "The only reason he didn't apply for retraining benefits was because LTV provided him with substantial light duty work that he could physically tolerate after his rehabilitation.