Case name: Hornbeck v. Spectra Painting, Inc., No. SC92116 (Mo. 07/31/12).
Ruling: The Missouri Supreme Court held that penalties for an employer's violation of the scaffolding law did not apply to a painter's award from the second injury fund.
What it means: In Missouri, an employer is not required to pay a penalty on benefits provided by the second injury fund.
Summary: A painter suffered a work-related accident when he fell 10 feet from a ladder onto a concrete surface. The ladder was on a makeshift scaffolding platform. He sought benefits and penalties, asserting that his injury resulted from his employer's violation of the scaffolding law, which requires that scaffolds be safely supported. The painter received benefits from the second injury fund and the employer. In a case of first impression, the Missouri Supreme Court held that the penalty did not apply to the award from the second injury fund.
The court explained that when the SIF is applicable, the employer is liable for the amount of disability caused by the worker's current injury and the SIF is liable for the amount of the increase in disability cause by the effect of the combined effect of the work injury and preexisting disability. The court said that because the award to the painter from the SIF was intended to reflect his preexisting condition it was inappropriate to order the employer to pay a penalty on the award. Imposing a penalty on the SIF award would force the employer to provide compensation for his disability over which it had no control. This was contrary to the purpose of the SIF and could discourage employers from hiring workers with preexisting disabilities.
The court also found that the painter did not show that his treatments after he reached maximum medical improvement were reasonably necessary to cure and relieve the effects of his compensable injury. He also failed to show that he was entitled to additional temporary total disability benefits or attorney's fees.
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October 11, 2012
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