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.