In a recent Supreme Court of Missouri Appeal case (Accident Fund Insurance Company; E.J. Cody Company, Inc. v. Robert Casey, Employee/Dolores Murphy), The Missouri Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Employee. Robert Casey died from mesothelioma caused by repeated exposure to asbestos in the workplace. Before his death, Mr. Casey worked as a floor tile installer and filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, with which his widow, Ms. Murphy, proceeded following his death. The Missouri Supreme Court stated “Due to his extensive asbestos exposure, Mr. Casey was diagnosed with mesothelioma in the fall of 2014. He filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits against his Employer in February 2015. At the time he filed the claim, Employer was covered under an insurance policy purchased from Insurer. The policy included an endorsement titled “Missouri Notification of Additional Mesothelioma Benefits Endorsement,” providing in pertinent part: Section 287.200.4, subdivision (3), of the Missouri Revised Statutes provides additional benefits in the case of occupational diseases due to toxic exposure that are diagnosed to be mesothelioma and result in permanent total disability or death. Your policy provides insurance for these additional benefits. By accepting this policy, Employer opted in to liability coverage for the additional mesothelioma benefits provided by Section 287.200.4, which allows for enhanced compensation for “all [mesothelioma] claims filed on or after January 1, 2014.”
The Missouri’s workers’ compensation law was amended in 2014 to provide enhanced compensation for individuals diagnosed with occupational diseases such as mesothelioma. Section 287.200.4(3). Coverage is provided for “all claims filed on or after January 1, 2014, for occupational diseases due to toxic exposure which result in a permanent total disability or death.” Section 287.200.4. Employers may either accept or reject liability for mesothelioma. If an employer elects to accept liability, it must insure its “entire liability” under the act, which includes accepting all of the act’s provisions. In other words, an insurer cannot avoid certain liabilities by constructing its policy to exclude certain provisions of the workers’ compensation statute and cover only the provisions it prefers. The Supreme Court concluded that because Mr. Casey’s exposure to asbestos occurred while he was employed by E.J. Cody Company, Inc. (“Employer”), its insurer, Accident Fund National Insurance Company (“Insurer”), was liable since the employer purchased a policy which was meant to cover all of the employer’s workers’ compensation liability, and which included a mesothelioma endorsement to cover all liability arising out of any mesothelioma claims filed on our after January 1, 2014.
The Missouri Supreme Court found that the standard policy provision which limits liability for exposure injuries to those which were caused by exposure during the policy period was modified by the addition of the mesothelioma endorsement. The Court observed that to rule otherwise would make the mesothelioma endorsement “essentially worthless”.
When you or a family member has been diagnosed with Mesothelioma, our dedicated lawyers can help. Mogab & Hughes Attorneys has been in business for 55 years and has handled numerous work and non-work related mesothelioma cases. If you need help, contact Attorney David Hughes at 314-241-4477 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We offer a free consultation, extensive knowledge in asbestos related diseases and laws, and will thoroughly investigate, research, and gather evidence for your Mesothelioma case.