Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, Third Division
from the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission
Before: Alok Ahuja, Presiding Judge, Thomas H. Newton, Judge
and Cynthia L. Martin, Judge
CYNTHIA L. MARTIN, JUDGE
Carter ("Mrs. Carter") appeals from a final order
entered by the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission
("Commission") denying her workers'
compensation claim which sought an award for permanent total
disability benefits as the surviving dependent of Phillip
Carter ("Mr. Carter"). We affirm.
and Procedural Background
Carter was injured at work on January 25, 2005. He filed a
timely claim for workers' compensation benefits. An
Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") awarded Mr. Carter
permanent total disability benefits against the Second Injury
Fund ("Fund") on August 18, 2009. The August 18,
2009 award did not include factual findings identifying Mr.
Carter's dependents at the time of his workplace injury.
Specifically, the award did not find that Mrs. Carter was Mr.
Carter's dependent at the time of his injury. The
ALJ's August 18, 2009 award was not appealed and became
final twenty days after its entry.
Carter died on April 13, 2014 of causes unrelated to his
workplace injury. The Fund ceased payment of Mr. Carter's
permanent total disability benefits at that time.
Carter filed a motion with the Commission to substitute
herself as the claimant in Mr. Carter's workers'
compensation case for the purpose of reinstating his
permanent total disability benefits so they could be paid to
her. Carter v. Treasurer of Mo. (Carter I),
506 S.W.3d 368, 370 (Mo. App. W.D. 2016). The Commission
dismissed Mrs. Carter's motion to substitute.
Id. We affirmed the Commission's dismissal of
the motion to substitute. Id. at 373.
Mrs. Carter's appeal from the Commission's dismissal
of her motion to substitute was pending, Mrs. Carter
separately filed a petition in the circuit court asking that
the ALJ's August 18, 2009 award be entered as a judgment
pursuant to section 287.500. Carter v. Treasurer of
Mo. (Carter II), 506 S.W.3d 373, 375 (Mo. App.
W.D. 2016). The circuit court entered the award as a
judgment. Id. Mrs. Carter then sought to
"enforce the judgment by ordering the Fund pay [Mr.
Carter's] permanent total disability benefits to her for
her lifetime." Id. Following an evidentiary
hearing, the circuit court found that Mrs. Carter was a
dependent entitled "to receive [Mr. Carter's]
permanent total disability benefits . . . pursuant to
Schoemehl v. Treasurer of Missouri, 217 S.W.3d 900
(Mo. banc 2007)." Id. at 375-76. We reversed,
finding that the circuit court's authority pursuant to
section 287.500 was limited to the purely ministerial action
of entering a judgment on the ALJ's August 18, 2009
award. Id. at 376-77. We thus found that the circuit
court had no authority to determine factual issues regarding
Mrs. Carter's status as a dependent that were not
included in the August 18, 2009 award. Id.
the proceedings at issue in Carter I and Carter
II were pending, Mrs. Carter filed a new claim for
compensation with the Commission. The claim form identified
Mrs. Carter as the "injured employee, " and
identified the date of the accident or occupational disease
as "death from unrelated cause." The claim form did
not identify an employer. The claim form indicated that
recovery was sought from the Fund for permanent total
disability. Where the claim form asked the
"employee" to identify "what the employee was
doing and how the injury occurred, " Mrs. Carter
attached a page explaining why she believed she was entitled
to recover "dependent benefits pursuant to Schoemehl
v. Treasurer of the State of Missouri, 217 S.W.3d 900
(Mo. banc 2007)."
issued an award and decision denying Mrs. Carter's claim
for compensation. The ALJ found that Mrs. Carter's claim
for compensation failed as a matter of law because the claim
is only for "Schoemehl benefits, " and as
a result, Mrs. Carter "neither experienced any
compensable injury that would be the subject of a valid
workers' compensation claim, nor was she an employee
pursuant to the Workers' Compensation Act." [L.F.
38] The ALJ found that Mrs. Carter "filed a new injury
number that does not contain any of the valid elements of a
workers' compensation claim, " and noted
"[t]his is not the vessel by which to obtain
Schoemehl benefits which [Mrs.] Carter claims arise
from her deceased husband's past worker's
compensation claim." [L.F. 38]
Carter appealed the ALJ's decision to the Commission. The
Commission affirmed the award and decision of the ALJ,
adopting the ALJ's findings, conclusions, decision and
award except as modified or supplemented by the
Commission's award. The Commission's award modified
the ALJ's award and decision to find "that it has no
basis upon which to award [Mrs.] Carter benefits under this
claim for compensation." [L.F. 42] The Commission's
award supplemented the ALJ's award and decision by
holding as follows:
On October 25, 2016, the Missouri Court of Appeals for the
Western District handed down its opinion in [Carter
I], a claim founded upon the very same facts as the
instant claim (Injury No. 14-045845). The [Carter I]
court ruled that [Mrs. Carter's] contingent right to
Schoemehl benefits was extinguished ("not
preserved") when the award granting permanent total
disability benefits to her husband (the injured employee)
became final, because the award did not contain a finding
that [Mrs. Carter] was employee's dependent at the time
of his injury. Inasmuch as both claims derive from the same
facts, we conclude [Mrs. Carter's] contingent right to
Schoemehl benefits was extinguished when the ...