Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, Second Division
FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF HENRY COUNTY The Honorable James K.
Before: Lisa White Hardwick, Presiding Judge, Karen King
Mitchell and Anthony Rex Gabbert, Judges
White Hardwick, Judge
State Treasurer, as Custodian of the Second Injury Fund
("Fund"), appeals the circuit court's judgment
granting Joanne Carter's motion to enforce her deceased
husband's workers' compensation award by ordering the
Fund to pay his permanent total disability benefits to her.
The Fund contends the court had no authority to make findings
not originally made in the workers' compensation award
and to award benefits that were not originally awarded. For
reasons explained herein, we reverse the circuit court's
and Procedural History
January 25, 2005, Carter's husband, Phillip,
sustained a work-related injury. He filed a workers'
compensation claim against both his employer and the Fund. An
Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") held a hearing on
his claim in 2009. At the hearing, the only issues to be
1. Whether Phillip Carter is permanently and totally disabled
due to the combined effects of the January 25, 2005 injury
and pre-existing disabilities;
2. What is the nature and extent of permanent partial
disability attributable to the January 25, 2005 injury; and
3. Whether [Phillip] Carter is entitled to an award of future
August 18, 2009, the ALJ awarded Phillip permanent total
disability benefits from the Fund. The award did not include
any findings or conclusions regarding any dependents. The ALJ
stated that the Fund was to remain liable for permanent total
disability benefits "for as long as [Phillip] remains so
disabled." The ALJ did not award any benefits,
contingent or otherwise, to anyone other than Phillip. No
party appealed the ALJ's award.
April 13, 2014, Phillip died of causes unrelated to his work
injury. On June 3, 2014, the administrator for the Fund
notified Carter that Phillip's permanent total disability
benefits under the August 18, 2009 award terminated as of his
death. The administrator further informed Carter that there
was an overpayment of benefits past his death in the amount
of $2, 430.84, which needed to be paid back to the Fund.
Carter paid this amount back to the Fund as requested.
Shortly thereafter, Carter filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Carter filed a motion with the Labor and Industrial Relations
Commission ("Commission") to substitute herself as
a party in Phillip's workers' compensation case and
to reinstate Phillip's permanent total disability
benefits to pay them to her. The Commission dismissed her
motion on July 3, 2014, after determining that it lacked the
authority to substitute Carter as a party or to order that
she be paid Phillip's permanent total disability benefits
because Phillip's August 18, 2009 award was final and
contained no basis upon which the Commission could grant such
relief. Carter appealed in Phillip Carter, Deceased v.
Missouri State Treasurer, as Custodian of Second Injury
Fund, WD77747, (Mo. App. Oct. 25, 2016), which was
argued on the same day as this case and is handed down
Carter's appeal of the Commission's decision was
pending, she filed a petition asking the circuit court to
enter Phillip's August 18, 2009 workers' compensation
award as a judgment in the circuit court pursuant to Section
287.500. The court entered the award as a judgment.
Carter then filed a motion requesting that the court enforce
the judgment by ordering the Fund to pay Phillip's
permanent total disability benefits to her for her lifetime.
court held an evidentiary hearing. During the hearing, Carter
testified that, at the time of Phillip's death, she had
been married to him for 52 years and was financially
dependent on him. She also testified that Phillip had no
other dependents on the date of his injury or his death.
Following the hearing, the court entered a judgment in favor
of Carter. In the judgment, the court found that Carter was
married to Phillip at the time of his injury and remained
married to him until he died. Therefore, the court concluded
that Carter fulfilled the contingencies to be able to receive
Phillip's permanent total disability benefits as his
dependent pursuant to Schoemehl v. Treasurer of
Missouri, 217 ...