Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Second Division
ROBERT EDWARDS (deceased), Employee, and BEVERLY EDWARDS, Claimant/Appellant,
TREASURER OF THE STATE OF MISSOURI AS CUSTODIAN OF THE SECOND INJURY FUND, Respondent.
from the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission
B. SULLIVAN, P. J.
Edwards (Claimant) appeals from the Labor and Industrial
Relations Commission's (Commission) decision denying her
Motion for Increase in Benefits (Motion for Increase) seeking
successor workers' compensation benefits from the Second
Injury Fund (SIF). We affirm.
and Procedural Background
March 28, 2006, Robert Edwards (Employee) suffered a
compensable work-related injury. On April 22, 2009, an
administrative law judge issued an award of permanent total
disability benefits from the SIF to Employee. While the award
makes several references to "[Employee's] wife,
" it contains no finding that Claimant was
Employee's wife or his dependent. Neither Employee nor
the SIF appealed the decision. Employee died on September 22,
October 16, 2015, Claimant filed a Suggestion of Death and
Motion for Substitution with the Commission, advising the
Commission of Employee's death and requesting she be
substituted for Employee for purposes of entitlement to
receive Employee's permanent total disability benefits
from the SIF pursuant to Schoemehl v. Treasurer of the
State of Missouri, 217 S.W.3d 900 (Mo. banc 2007). The
SIF objected to Claimant's Motion for Substitution. On
October 26, 2015, Claimant filed her Suggestions in
Opposition to the SIF's Objection to her motion, in which
Claimant modified her motion by eliminating her request for
the Commission to determine her entitlement to successor
benefits, instead seeking only to substitute herself as a
party in Employee's workers' compensation case
pursuant to Section 287.580. On January 21, 2016, the
Commission issued an order granting Claimant's request
for substitution and revived the proceedings pursuant to
Section 287.580 to continue in favor of Claimant. However,
the Commission limited its order to Claimant's
substitution, stating, "We make no findings or
conclusions with respect to [Claimant's] entitlement (if
any) to benefits under the award of April 22, 2009."
February 5, 2016, Claimant filed her Motion for Increase
seeking Schoemehl benefits as an employee entitled
to permanent and total disability benefits as a result of
Employee's work-related injury and subsequent death due
to unrelated causes. Claimant requested the Commission grant
a rehearing pursuant to Section 287.470 to determine whether
the SIF properly ended benefits upon Employee's death. On
February 10, 2016, the SIF appealed the Commission's
January 21, 2016 order to this Court. The SIF subsequently
requested the Commission hold Claimant's Motion for
Increase in abeyance pending the SIF's appeal of the
prior order, a request granted by the Commission.
September 13, 2016, this Court dismissed the SIF's appeal
for lack of jurisdiction, finding the January 21, 2016 order
was not a final, appealable order because the Commission did
not address the merits of Claimant's claim and did not
dispose of the entire controversy between the parties.
Edwards v. Zweifel, 498 S.W.3d 860, 862 (Mo. App.
November 2, 2016, the Commission issued its order denying
Claimant's Motion for Increase finding, pursuant to
Carter v. Treasurer of the State of Missouri -Custodian
of the Second Injury Fund, 506 S.W.3d 368, 371-72 (Mo.
App. W.D. 2016), reh'g and/or transfer denied
(Nov. 22, 2016), transfer denied (Jan. 31, 2017),
Claimant's contingent right to successor benefits under
Schoemehl was extinguished on May 11, 2009, when the
April 22, 2009 award became final because the award did not
contain a determination that Claimant was Employee's
dependent at the time of his injury. This appeal follows.
appeal, Claimant argues the Commission erred in denying her
claim for successor benefits because the denial violated her
right to due process under Article I, Section 14 of the
Missouri Constitution, in that the decision denied her any
procedure by which she could claim her substantive right to
successor benefits under the Missouri Workers'
Compensation Law once all contingencies necessary to claim
those rights were met and she had standing to assert her
to Section 287.495, on appeal this Court may modify, reverse,
remand or set aside the Commission's award if: (1) the
Commission acted without or in excess of its powers, (2) the
award was procured by fraud, (3) the facts found by the
Commission do not support the award, or (4) there was ...