MO Court of Appeals reverses pro-business award from the Industrial Commission
Missouri Workers Compensation Legal Update
Last year I informed you about an important defense award from the Industrial Commission in Shoen v. Mid Missouri. The Court of Appeals reversed that decision on September 3, 2019. Read the entire decision HERE.
Claimant inhaled bug spray and needed to see Dr. Runde about her breathing problems. While Dr. Runde’s receptionist escorted employee from the waiting room to the patient area, Dr. Runde was in the process of attempting to divert the dog that was with another patient in the waiting room, and Dr. Runde accidently kicked employee under her right knee, causing her to trip and fall on her knees.
Because of aggravation to claimant’s knees and back, the ALJ found claimant to be permanently and totally disabled.
The Industrial Commission reversed the ALJ, finding that the claimant’s problems from inhaling the bug spray resolved with no PPD, and determined that the fall in the doctor’s office was NOT compensable. The Award of Perm Total benefits reversed an no additional benefits were awarded. The Commission found that claimant’s trip and fall in the doctor’s waiting room did NOT occur during the course of medical care. It occurred while she was walking through the doctor’s office which was not considered medical care.
The Court of Appeals reversed the Industrial Commission, stating:
“While Schoen was at Dr. Runde’s medical facility and after she was directed by Dr. Runde’s medical staff to proceed to an examination room, Dr. Runde himself accidentally tripped Schoen while she was being escorted to the patient examination room. Dr. Runde directed the location for his patient’s pulmonary testing; Schoen merely followed the directive of her doctor and, while doing so, sustained new injuries. Therefore, Schoen’s new injuries were sustained in the course of Schoen receiving authorized medical treatment for her original injury and, hence, were part of the natural consequence flowing from her original injury. The Commission’s conclusion to the contrary is neither supported by the factual record nor the law applied to the factual record as set forth by the Commission’s decision.”
IMPACT OF THIS DECISION
This is a terrible decision in that this expands the doctrine of injuries that occur during medical care are compensable to situations that are only tangentially, at best, related to medical care. Thankfully this is not a fact pattern that occurs very often, so the fallout from this misguided opinion should be limited.
If you want to discuss any additional implications from the decision, please feel free to call or email.