Minnesota Supreme Court rules on Former Viking Al Noga’s Worker’s Compensation Claim
Al Noga is a former Vikings defensive lineman who played for the Vikings from 1988 to 1992, before going on to play for the Washington Redskins and then the Indianapolis Colts. The former lineman originally sued the Minnesota Vikings organization for permanent and total disability benefits back in 2015, alleging a brain injury and long-term neurological disorders resulting from his time with the Vikings. The case finally made it up to the Minnesota Supreme Court this year.
When Noga first filed the worker’s compensation claim in 2015, a compensation judge ruled Noga was entitled to permanent and total disability benefits. This decision was affirmed by a Worker’s Compensation Court of Appeals. The case moved between worker’s compensation courts and Minnesota state courts for a few years before the Minnesota Vikings appealed to the Minnesota Supreme Court this year.
The Minnesota Supreme Court, overturning the Minnesota Court of Appeals’ decision, determined that Al Noga did not file the claim within the statute of limitations and, therefore, was not eligible to claim the permanent benefits. State law establishes a timeframe of three years after the employer has made a written report of the injury to the Department of Labor and Industry, but not to exceed six years from the date of the injury.
Noga and the Vikings knew about his neurological injuries in 2004 due to a medical report completed as part of a separate claim related to orthopedic injuries. Accordingly, Noga’s six-year statute of limitations began to run that year. While Noga agreed with this timeline, he argued that the Vikings had waived the statute of limitations and accepted responsibility by treating his headaches with pain relievers when he was a player. The Minnesota Supreme Court disagreed, finding that the Vikings did not accept responsibility for Noga’s long-term neurological disorders. Without an exception or waiver of the applicable statute of limitations, the Minnesota Supreme Court held that Noga’s claim was not brought timely.