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State ex rel. ISP Minerals, Inc. v. Labor & Industrial Relations Commission

Supreme Court of Missouri, En Banc

July 21, 2015

STATE ex rel. ISP MINERALS, INC., Relator,
v.
THE LABOR AND INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS COMMISSION, Respondent

ISP was represented by Mary Anne Lindsey and Robert W. Haeckel of Evans & Dixon LLC in St. Louis.

Michael Alcorn was represented by Nancy R. Mogab of Mogab & Hughes Attorneys PC in St. Louis.

The Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys, which filed a brief as a friend of the Court, was represented by Randy Charles Alberhasky of The Alberhasky Law Firm PC in Springfield.

Richard B. Teitelman, Judge. Breckenridge, C.J., Stith, Draper and Russell, JJ., concur; Fischer and Wilson, JJ., concur in result.

OPINION

Richard B. Teitelman, J.

Original Proceeding in Prohibition

ISP Minerals, Inc., (Employer) filed a petition for a writ of prohibition and, alternatively, mandamus, asserting that the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission (commission) lacked jurisdiction to determine the amount owed to Michael Alcorn (Employee) pursuant to a settlement agreement that left future medical care " open." Under the circumstances of this case, the commission may exercise jurisdiction to determine Employee's entitlement to future medical care. The preliminary writ of prohibition is quashed.

Facts

Employee and Employer settled Employee's claim for workers' compensation benefits arising out of a work-related pulmonary condition. The settlement required Employer to pay a lump sum of $36,508 for Employee's permanent partial disability. Employer paid the lump sum. With regard to Employee's future medical costs, Employer agreed " to leave future related pulmonary med. care open." The settlement further provided for " [a]uth med. care thru Dr. Jos. Ojile of Cadeaces Corp. in St. Louis, Mo. for monitoring care of occ chemical dust induced COPD & bronchial reactivity w/obstructive airway." An administrative law judge approved the settlement pursuant to section 287.390.1.[1]

Employer paid for Employee's medical monitoring as set forth in the settlement. The dispute in this case centers on Employer's refusal to pay for certain inhaler medicines prescribed by Dr. Ojile because Employer's physician determined that the inhalers were unnecessary.

The parties' attempts to resolve the dispute regarding Employee's future medical care resulted in a complex procedural history. As relevant to this writ petition, Employee filed a request for a hearing before the commission to determine whether Employer is required to pay for the inhalers. The commission entered an order concluding that it retained jurisdiction to determine Employer's liability for Employee's future medical care. The order also required the parties to present their evidence in a hearing before the Division of Workers Compensation, which would then make suggested findings to the commission regarding Employer's obligation to provide the prescribed treatment to Employee.

Employer filed the instant writ petition asserting that parties' settlement divested the commission of jurisdiction over the issue of Employee's future medical care. The dispositive issue is whether the approved settlement divested the commission of jurisdiction or whether the commission retains jurisdiction to determine Employer's liability for Employee's future medical care.

Standard of Review

" Prohibition is a discretionary writ, and there is no right to have the writ issued." State ex rel. Linthicum v. Calvin, 57 S.W.3d 855, 856-57 (Mo. banc 2001). " A writ of prohibition will issue to prevent an abuse of discretion, irreparable harm to a party, or an extra-jurisdictional act and may be appropriate to prevent unnecessary, inconvenient, and expensive litigation." State ex rel. Wyeth v. Grady, 262 S.W.3d 216, 219 (Mo. banc 2008). " A litigant seeking mandamus must allege and prove that he or she has a clear, ...


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