The Missouri Court of Appeals has again overruled the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission for its refusal to follow state Supreme Court precedent over the Second Injury Fund. The case is another step in the ongoing fight to get hurt workers the workers’ compensation they need to recover.
Commission Refuses Second Injury Funds for Multiple Injuries
The case involved a welder who hurt his left shoulder at work. He filed for workers’ compensation from the Second Injury Fund because the new injury, together with several older injuries, made him unable to return to work.
The administrative law judge awarded the worker compensation from the Fund. But when the Fund appealed, the Commission overturned the judge. The judge had looked at multiple prior injuries. The Commission insisted that, under Missouri Statute 287.220.3, only a single prior injury could be considered.
Subsequent Missouri court decisions would rule that this was not the case.
Another Appellate Court Overrules Commission’s Narrow Interpretation
When the worker appealed, the Eastern District of the Missouri Court of Appeals applied the earlier court decisions, overruled the Commission, and awarded the worker compensation.
The case, Klecka v. Treasurer of Missouri as Custodian of the Second Injury Fund, was not the first one that interpreted Missouri Statute 287.220.3 more broadly than the Commission. An earlier decision, Treasurer of the State of Missouri as Custodian of the Second Injury Fund v. Parker, also found that Missouri’s workers’ compensation statutes did not require there to be a single preexisting injury.
The Parker decision, though, was issued on July 14, 2020 by the Western District of the Missouri Court of Appeals, and then on April 20, 2021 by the Supreme Court of Missouri. The Commission’s decision in Klecka was only issued on January 14, 2020 – before Parker came out.
This means that the Commission was not deliberately or knowingly flouting binding court decisions. However, it does mean that other Commission rulings, like Sneed v. Wal-Mart, are out there that rely on misinterpretations of the law.
Commission is Looking for Reasons to Deny Claims
Even if it is not purposefully flouting binding court decisions, the Commission is stretching for ways to deny recovery to hurt workers in Missouri. Its interpretation of Missouri Statute 287.220.3 is a hyper-technical one that reads the phrase, “an employee has a medically documented preexisting disability” to mean one and only one medically documented preexisting disability.
As a result of this tortured reading of the statute, injured Missouri workers are being left without the compensation they need to make a full recovery.
Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at the Smith Law Office
The workers’ compensation and personal injury lawyers at the Smith Law Office strive to legally represent workers in St. Joseph, Kansas City, Springfield, and the rest of western Missouri navigate the complex field of workers’ compensation law. Contact us online or call our law office at (816) 875-9373.