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SSM Health Care v. Hartgrove

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, First Division

December 16, 2014

SSM HEALTH CARE, Appellant,
v.
DONNICE HARTGROVE, Respondent

LABOR AND INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS COMMISSION.

For Appellant: Kevin Leahy, St. Louis, MO.

For Respondent: Dewey Crepeau, Columbia, MO.

Before Division One: Thomas H. Newton, P.J., Lisa White Hardwick, and Anthony Rex Gabbert, JJ. Hardwick and Gabbert, JJ. concur.

OPINION

Page 468

Thomas H. Newton, Presiding Judge

Summary

SSM Health Care (employer) appeals the decision of the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission (Commission) denying a motion to suspend disability benefits to Ms. Donnice Hartgrove (employee) for refusing to submit to a medical examination. We affirm.

Factual and Procedural Background

In June 2001, the employee, a registered nurse, injured her back while lifting a 300-pound stroke patient. After receiving medical treatment, including surgery, the

Page 469

employee returned to work. She left work after three weeks because of lower back and leg pain and an inability to concentrate. The employer had notice of the injury, and the employee timely filed a claim for worker's compensation.

In November 2003, a hearing was held before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) within the Division of Workers' Compensation (Division). In January 2004, the ALJ found[1] that the employee had " sustained her burden of proof that she is permanently and totally disabled," and that " [t]here was no contradictory evidence." The employee was awarded lifetime permanent total disability (PTD) compensation from the employer, along with $41,311.20 for the period of June 2, 2002, through January 10, 2004. The employer appealed to the Commission, and the Commission affirmed the ALJ's award.

In February 2014, the employer suspended the employee's disability payments, and the employee filed a motion with the Commission to compel the employer to " comply with the Commission's 2004 final award allowing compensation." In the motion, the employee stated that, " [o]nce again,[2] on or about February 15, 2014, Employer stopped payment of the awarded weekly compensation and . . . has not filed an Application for Review." She further stated that the employer justified the termination of payments because she " declined to appear for a medical examination as scheduled by the employer." She argued that the employer's " appropriate remedy [was] to file an Application for Review pursuant to RSMo 287.4 [sic]," and that ...


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