Current Missouri Mesothelioma and Asbestosis Workers’ Compensation Law and Benefits – By Attorney David Hughes

On May 22, 2018, the Missouri Supreme Court en banc decided Accident Fund National Insurance Company; E. J. Cody Company, Inc. v. E. Robert Casey, Employee/Delores Murphy.  550 S.W.3d 76 (Mo. Sup. Ct. 2018).  The Supreme Court decided that because Mr. Casey’s exposure to asbestos occurred while he was employed by E. J. Cody Company, Inc., its insurer, Accident Fund National Insurance Company, was liable for benefits under Section 287.200.4, R.S.Mo. 2014.  Id. at 80.  The Supreme Court noted that the Missouri worker’s compensation law was amended in 2014 to provide enhanced compensation for individuals diagnosed with occupational disease such as mesothelioma, and that coverage is provided for “all claims filed on or after January 1, 2014, for occupational diseases due to toxic exposure which result in permanent total disability or death.”  Id.  The Court further held that Section 287.200 was constitutional as applied. Id. at 82.

In Vincent Hegger v. Valley Farm Dairy, decided by the Missouri Supreme Court on February 18, 2020, the Supreme Court affirmed the Labor Commission’s Decision and explained that employers who had elected to accept mesothelioma liability under R.S.Mo. 287.200.4 are not subject to civil liability for the occupational disease caused by toxic exposure.  No. SC97993, Pages 4-5.  The Supreme Court discussed that the difference between the Hegger and Casey cases was that in Casey, the employer was still in business when Casey filed his claim, and the employer was covered under a policy of insurance that included an endorsement entitled “Missouri Notification of Additional Mesothelioma Benefits.” Id. at 7.

Hayden v. Cut-Zaven was decided by the Missouri Court of Appeals Eastern District on September 22, 2020.  No. ED108695.  The Eastern District held that the claimant must produce evidence establishing a causal connection between the conditions of employment and the occupational disease.  Id. at Page 16.  There must also be evidence that establishes “a probability that working conditions caused the disease, although they need not be the sole cause,” and that “the claimant does not need to establish by medical certainty that his or her injury was caused by an occupational disease in order to be eligible for compensation.” Id.

In Landis v. St. Luke’s Hospital, et al., Injury Number 17-098196 (affirmed by the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission on April 16, 2020), The Honorable Kenneth J. Cain held that the trier of fact may make reasonable inferences from the evidence of mesothelioma. Wagner v. Bondex Int’l, Inc., 368 S.W.3d 340 (Mo. App. W.D. 2012).  Id. at Page 14.  Judge Cain further held that the employee shall be conclusively deemed to have been exposed to the hazards of an occupational disease “when for any length of time, however short, he is employed in an occupation or process in which the hazard of the disease exists.”  Id. at Page 15.  Further, 287.063(2) states the employer liable for the compensation “shall be the employer in whose employment the employee was last exposed to the hazard of the occupational disease prior to evidence of disability, regardless of the length of time of such last exposure.”  Id.  Judge Cain also held that absolute proof of asbestos in a particular workplace is not required, and that per R.S.Mo. 287.063.1 (2005), the employee shall be conclusively deemed to have been exposed to the hazards of an occupational disease when, for any length of time, however short, he is employed in an occupation or process in which the hazard of the disease exists. Id. at Page 16, Footnote #9.

If you have been exposed to Asbestos while working in Missouri and have Mesothelioma or Asbestosis, call Attorney David Hughes at 314-241-4477.

Out-of-state Automobile Accident – St. Louis Attorney Thomas J. Gregory

I recently settled a case for a woman who was a passenger in a car which was struck by another vehicle that failed to yield the right-of-way.  The case was complicated by the fact that the accident occurred in Oregon, which meant Oregon law applied to this claim.  Unlike Missouri, Oregon has a modified no-fault law which provides for limited personal injury protection (PIP), but still preserves the right to sue the negligent driver.

My client had been diagnosed with a concussion at the emergency room in Oregon and had only been getting chiropractic treatment for a sore neck since she returned to St. Louis when she came to see me almost a year after the accident.  I immediately noticed that she complained of signs of post-concussion syndrome that needed specialized treatment by a neurologist, and I made arrangements for her to treat with a neurologist who was able to significantly improve her symptoms.

Total recovery was approximately $80,000.00.  An important thing that any lawyer handling a case in another state must be aware of is the statute of limitations in the state whose law applies to the case.  Missouri has a five year statute of limitations for auto accidents while Oregon’s statute of limitations is only two years, so my client would not have been able to recover anything if she waited too long to retain a lawyer who could investigate the applicable law in the state where the accident occurred and get a lawsuit filed within the specified time period.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, please call Attorney Thomas J. Gregory at 314-241-4477.

Worker’s Compensation – $595,000.00 Lump Sum Settlement St. Louis Attorney Thomas J. Gregory

I represented a union plumber in 2005 who sustained an on the job injury to his low back that required surgery.  We reached an excellent settlement of his worker’s compensation claim and my client recovered successfully from the surgery and continued in his career as a plumber.

He returned to see me in 2017 after sustaining a knee injury that also involved a related condition known as deep vein thrombosis.  My client was now 61 years old, and after his knee surgery, he found it difficult to get back to work.

We went to trial before an Administrative Law Judge against the Employer/Insurer and the Missouri Second Injury Fund and alleged that my client could not return to any work based on his age, education and work experience, and was therefore permanently and totally disabled and entitled to lifetime benefits.  Both opposing sides argued that my client could do other lighter work, and therefore, would only be entitled to a one-time payment of permanent partial disability benefits, not lifetime benefits.  They also argued that if the employee was found to be permanently and totally disabled, it would be the responsibility of the other party.  If my client was found to be permanently and totally disabled from the last injury (the knee injury and deep vein thrombosis), then the Employer would be responsible for lifetime benefits.  If the total disability was found to be the result of the last injury in combination with the prior back injury, the Second Injury Fund would owe for lifetime benefits after the Employer paid for any disability related to the last injury.

The Administrative Law Judge found that my client was permanently and totally disabled and entitled to lifetime benefits and found the Employer/Insurer, not the Second Injury Fund, to be responsible for those benefits.  The Employer/Insurer filed an appeal with the Industrial Commission of Missouri, which upheld the decision of the Administrative Law Judge.

Following the Commission’s decision, the Employer/Insurer agreed to pay a lump sum of $595,000.00 to my client in lieu of the future payments based on life expectancy tables, and in addition, also agreed to provide future medical treatment as needed for the injuries he sustained in the work-related injury as awarded by the Administrative Law Judge.

If you or a loved one has been injured on the job, please call Attorney Thomas Gregory at 314-241-4477.