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Thompson v. Treasurer of State of Missouri

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Second Division

February 20, 2018

WINIFRED THOMPSON, Respondent,
v.
TREASURER OF THE STATE OF MISSOURI AS CUSTODIAN OF THE SECOND INJURY FUND, Appellant.

         Appeal from the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission Injury No. 06-066635

          OPINION

          Lisa P. Page, Presiding Judge.

         The Treasurer of the State of Missouri as Custodian of the Second Injury Fund ("Fund") appeals a final award of the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission ("Commission") awarding Winifred Thompson ("Claimant") workers' compensation benefits. We affirm.

         BACKGROUND

         Claimant sustained a back injury on July 27, 2006, while walking in the breakroom of her employer, Medi-Plex ("Employer"). Claimant was alone in the breakroom at the time of the accident. Claimant's coworkers, Deborah Vinson and Leanna Robinson, responded to Claimant's pleas for help shortly after the incident. Officer Jeremy Brown later arrived at the scene and eventually prepared his police report. Claimant subsequently filed a claim for workers' compensation.

         Prior to this appeal the parties thoroughly litigated whether Claimant slipped and fell on a wet substance or whether she "just fell." This determination is dispositive as to whether the injury is compensable. None of the three witnesses testified that they observed any foreign substance on the floor, nor was there any mention of a foreign substance in Claimant's medical records. Additionally, Claimant did not mention any substance on the floor when directly asked by an insurance claims adjustor working for Employer, Ms. Cashin, shortly after the incident and while Claimant was hospitalized. The sole evidence of a foreign substance on the floor was Claimant's testimony during her deposition in March 2007 and before the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") during a July 2015 hearing.

         Employer and Claimant settled prior to the second day of the hearing before the ALJ. Therefore, Claimant proceeded only against the Fund. The ALJ denied the claim, finding Claimant failed to establish there was a foreign substance on the floor and, as a result, she did not sustain a compensable injury that arose out of, and in the course of, her employment. The Commission reversed the ALJ's decision, finding Claimant's fall compensable because it did arise out of, and in the course of, her employment. Specifically, the Commission found Claimant's testimony credible that she slipped on a wet substance on the floor.

         This appeal follows.

         DISCUSSION

         In its sole point on appeal, the Fund argues the Commission erred in finding Claimant's fall compensable because such a finding is not supported by substantial and competent evidence. For the reasons set forth below, we must disagree and affirm the Commission's decision.

         Standard of Review

         Article V, Section 18 of the Missouri Constitution provides for judicial review of the Commission's decision to determine whether it is "supported by competent and substantial evidence upon the whole record." MO. CONST, art. V, § 18; see also Section 287.495.[1] Upon review, this Court may modify, reverse, remand for rehearing, or set aside the decision of the Commission upon the following grounds and no other:

(1) when the Commission has acted without or in excess of its ...

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