$2.85 million in Minneapolis workers comp claims approved, most to police

By: - October 22, 2021 3:19 pm

A Minneapolis police squad car in May 2021. Photo by Max Nesterak/Minnesota Reformer.

Another $2.85 million worth of workers’ compensation settlements were approved by a Minneapolis City Council committee this week. 

The Policy and Government Oversight Committee approved settlements with 17 city employees, all but one of whom are police employees, according to City Council President Lisa Bender.

That’s in addition to millions of dollars in settlements that have been approved since George Floyd’s May 2020 police killing, after which nearly 300 police officers have left the city. 

All but one of the city employees listed in the settlements Wednesday were represented by Ronald Meuser, Jr., an attorney who has said he represents about 200 police officers and firefighters who have filed claims since Floyd’s murder. Meuser has said the vast majority of the officers left their jobs due to post-traumatic stress disorder. 

The total cost of the flood of claims filed in recent months could stretch into the tens of millions: As of June, the average settlement was $169,000, putting the ballpark cost of Meuser’s 200 claims at about $34 million. 

The city had just a handful of claims annually until 2019, when a new state law took effect making it easier for emergency responders to claim PTSD disability retirement. Under that law, if a public employee has PTSD, it’s presumed to be job related.

In 2019, the city had 10 PTSD claims, but about 200 PTSD claims have been filed with the city since Floyd’s murder. 

The city is self-insured, which means departments pay premiums into a fund to cover lawsuits and workers’ comp claims, which means Minneapolis taxpayers ultimately foot the bill. 

Mayor Jacob Frey’s proposed budget includes a one-time $24 million transfer into the self insurance fund to shore up its finances in the face of mounting workers’ comp claims and liability settlements. His budget also shifts the cost of city attorneys who defend liability claims from the self-insurance fund to the general fund.

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Deena Winter
Deena Winter

Deena Winter has covered local and state government in four states over the past three decades, with stints at the Bismarck Tribune in North Dakota, as a correspondent for the Denver Post, city hall reporter in Lincoln, Nebraska, and regional editor for Southwest News in the western Minneapolis suburbs. Before joining the staff of the Reformer in 2021 she was a contributor to the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. She and her husband have a daughter, son, and very grand child. In her spare time, she likes to play tennis, jog, garden and attempt to check out all the best restaurants in the metro area.

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