Minneapolis approving additional worker’s compensation settlements with first responders

The Minneapolis City Council’s Policy and Government Oversight Committee approved nearly two dozen worker’s compensation settlements with first responders walking away from their jobs, claiming mental health and trauma-related issues.

The departures came in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and the subsequent rioting and unrest. They included a number of police officers, including Scott Creighton.

Creighton worked for MPD for 28 years and testified at Derek Chauvin’s trial. His settlement with the city includes $190,000 spread out over three years.

In total, the committee approved some $3.5 million in payouts Wednesday. The full council needs to sign off on them at Friday’s meeting. 

Attorney Ron Meuser represents a total of 206 Minneapolis emergency responders, mostly police officers who have turned in their badges over the last 16 months, citing mental health issues.

"It’s not about the dollars and cents, and many people may think it is," Meuser said. "I think the term ‘broken’ is a very fair statement."

Meuser is currently working through the litigation process with the city.

The council has been slowly signing off on the individual settlements that are averaging nearly $170,000 per case, meaning when it’s all totaled out the departures will likely surpass $35 million because of the way these types of disability claims are handled in Minnesota.

"It’s been a hardship to all these individuals. I think people quickly look to the monetary settlements and don’t realize the sheer damage this condition has caused them," he said.

Meuser warns the number of those leaving their jobs may grow even higher, with a couple of high profile police trials -- Chauvin’s co-defendants and Kimberly Potter in Hennepin County – on the horizon, as well as a Minneapolis public safety ballot initiative.

"We’re hoping they don’t cause a rush to the door… but a good chance, unfortunately, that we could see another significant reduction in police officers leaving the department," he said.

Meuser estimates he has another 100 or so clients who’ve chosen to remain with MPD and receive mental health services on the job, but he has no idea how those events will play out and impact the men and women wearing the badge.