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Pace v. City of St. Joseph

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, Second Division

April 21, 2015

GARY R. PACE, Appellant,
v.
CITY OF ST. JOSEPH, Respondent

APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF BUCHANAN COUNTY, MISSOURI. THE HONORABLE RANDALL R. JACKSON, JUDGE.

Benjamin S. Creedy, St. Joseph, MO for Appellant.

John M. Brigg, Kansas City, MO for Respondent.

Before Division Two: Lisa White Hardwick, Presiding Judge, Victor C. Howard, Judge and Cynthia L. Martin, Judge. All concur.

OPINION

VICTOR C. HOWARD, JUDGE

Page 871

Gary Pace brought a declaratory judgment action against the City of St. Joseph seeking to determine the rights of the parties under a workers' compensation award, specifically who has the right to select Mr. Pace's medical providers for his future care. On cross-motions for summary judgment, the trial court entered summary judgment in favor of the City finding that the award authorized the City to select Mr. Pace's medical providers for his future care. On appeal, Mr. Pace argues that the trial court misinterpreted the award and that under Missouri law, the

Page 872

City permanently waived its statutory right to select his treating doctors. The judgment is affirmed.

Appellate review of the grant of summary judgment is de novo. ITT Commercial Fin. Corp. v. Mid-Am. Marine Supply Corp., 854 S.W.2d 371, 376 (Mo. banc 1993). Summary judgment will be upheld on appeal if the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law and no genuine issues of material fact exist. Id. at 377. The facts in this case are not disputed; the issue is whether the City was entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

In August 2011, the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission entered a final award of workers' compensation benefits for Mr. Pace for an injury he sustained in a workplace accident on December 9, 2002. Under the section of the award entitled " Liability for Past Medical Expenses," the Commission found that Mr. Pace's past medical care represented by medical bills in the amount of $16,465.84 was reasonably necessary to cure and relieve him of the effects of the workplace injury. It further found that the City had notice of Mr. Pace's injuries and refused to provide medical treatment and that the City should pay for Mr. Pace's past medical bills. The section of the award entitled " Liability for Future Medical Aid" included a finding that Mr. Pace will need future medical care including chronic pain management. The award provided, " Employer is directed to authorize and furnish additional medical treatment to cure and relieve Claimant from the effects of his December 9, 2002 work injury (Injury Number 02-134660), in accordance with Section 287.140, RSMo."

The City appealed the Commission's determination that Mr. Pace was entitled to permanent and total disability benefits for the injury he sustained on December 9, 2009. It did not raise any issues regarding its liability for future medical care. Mr. Pace did not appeal the final award. This court affirmed the Commission's final award in Pace v. City of St. Joseph, 367 S.W.3d 137 (Mo. App. W.D. 2012). Thereafter, Mr. Pace registered the award as a judgment in the Circuit Court of Buchanan County pursuant to section 287.500, RSMo 2000.

When a dispute arose between the parties over who has the right to select the medical providers for Mr. Pace's future medical treatment, Mr. Pace filed a petition for declaratory judgment seeking a determination on the issue. The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment. Mr. Pace asked the trial court to declare that the City had waived its right to select his doctors and that he may select his own doctors for the medical care ordered in the award and require the City to pay for the treatment. The City asked the trial court to interpret and enforce the award in accordance with section 287.140 and declare that it has the right to select Mr. Pace's physicians for future medical care. The trial court granted the City's motion for summary judgment and denied Mr. Pace's motion. It declared that under the award and section 287.140, the City is authorized to select medical providers for Mr. Pace's future care. This appeal by Mr. Pace followed.

In his two points on appeal, Mr. Pace argues that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment in favor of the City. He contends that under Missouri law, the City permanently waived its statutory right to select his treating doctors when it refused to provide medical treatment after he suffered his workplace injury and that permitting the City to select his doctors now is inconsistent with the law on waiver. He further ...


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