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Wisconsin Supreme Court Denies Disability Benefits Resulting from Medical Treatment Unrelated to Work Injury

June 30, 2017

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has determined that employers and insurers are not responsible for disability benefits resulting from undertaking medical treatment that is not causally related to a work injury. While it may seem axiomatic that an employer and insurer are not responsible for disability caused by treatment unrelated to an injury, that was not the state of the law prior to this decision. In a decision filed on June 30, 2017, the Wisconsin Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals in Flug v. Labor and Industry Review Commission. In the lengthy 4-3 decision, with equally lengthy dissents, the majority determined that “an employee is not eligible for benefits under Wis. Stat. 102.42(1m) if the disability-causing treatment was directed at treating something other than the employee’s compensable injury.” The Wisconsin Supreme Court held that because Flug’s surgery treated her pre-existing condition, and not a compensable injury, the Court of Appeals should have affirmed the Commission’s decision denying benefits.