The Labor and Industrial Relations Commission (LIRC) is on a very bad streak, as yet another Missouri Court of Appeals overturned its poorly-reasoned denial of workers’ compensation. The newest case is just the latest in a disturbing trend that suggests that the LIRC is less interested in doing justice than it is in throwing out legitimate claims for workers’ compensation.
LIRC Muddles Its Way Through Another Workers’ Compensation Case
The case is Dubuc v. Treasurer of Missouri, yet another case involving the Second Injury Fund.
The worker was hurt in October, 2015. The LIRC decided that he had a permanent total disability (PTD) based on Missouri Statute 287.220.2. However, the LIRC failed to do its due diligence before issuing its decision and did not notice that the Missouri Supreme Court was hearing a workers’ compensation case that would interpret this section of Missouri law. That Missouri Supreme Court decision, Cosby v. Treasurer of Missouri, made it clear that the LIRC should not have applied subsection 2 of Missouri Statute 287.220, but rather subsection 3.
Cosby effectively negated the LIRC’s decision in Dubuc because it completely changed what the injured worker had to prove in the hearing to recover compensation. The Missouri Court of Appeals overruled the LIRC’s Dubuc decision and remanded it, ordering the LIRC to “consider all the evidence and to make additional factual findings” to decide whether the Second Injury Fund should make disability payments to the injured worker based on Missouri Statute 287.220.3, rather than 287.220.2.
Rather than follow the court order and hear evidence that might satisfy Missouri Statute 287.220.3, though, the LIRC pointed to Missouri Regulation Title 8 § 20-3.030, which only allows new evidence to be presented if it could not have been discovered with reasonable diligence. It also claimed that the court order, which specifically told the LIRC “to make additional factual findings,” actually meant that the LIRC was restricted to the “evidence in the record” and could not take new evidence.
The LIRC tossed the workers’ compensation claim. Because the LIRC failed to perform basic due diligence in the first place, the rules had changed beneath the feet of the injured worker. Rather than correct the problem and admit new evidence, though, the LIRC twisted the words of the court order in an attempt to walk away.
Appeals Court Slams LIRC for Obvious Misreading of its Order
Thankfully, the worker appealed and the case went back to the Missouri Court of Appeals, which reiterated that its order to “consider all of the evidence and to make additional factual findings” meant exactly what it said. It also pointed out that Missouri Regulation Title 8 § 20-3.030 allowed new evidence “where it furthers the interests of justice.” The court, perhaps needlessly, went on to explain that it was in the interests of justice to prevent the unfairness and the absurdity of throwing out a claim for not presenting evidence that was not needed when it was first brought.
Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at the Smith Law Office Serve St. Joseph
Unfortunately, this is just the latest in a long line of cases where the LIRC has stretched for reasons to deny injured workers the compensation they need and deserve. Not even a month ago, a different court of appeals roasted the LIRC for misinterpreting the definition of a permanent partial disability in order to deny recovery. Before then, the LIRC expressly refused to follow a binding court ruling, again in order to deny recovery.
Recovering workers’ compensation is not easy. The personal injury and workers’ compensation lawyers at the Smith Law Office can help. Contact them online or call their law office at (816) 875-9373 for legal representation in St. Joseph, Kansas City, Springfield, or the rest of western Missouri.