JOAN KNUTTER, Deceased Employee by MICHAEL KNUTTER, Claimant-Respondent,
AMERICAN NATIONAL INSURANCE, Employer-Appellant.
FROM THE LABOR AND INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS COMMISSION
W. SHEFFIELD, J.
an appeal from an award of compensation in the amount of $43,
160.00 entered by the Labor and Industrial Relations
Commission ("the Commission") in favor of Michael
Knutter ("Claimant"). Claimant's mother, Joan
Knutter ("Employee"), worked for American National
Insurance ("Employer"). She broke her ankle when
she slipped and fell on ice outside of her workplace on March
25, 2013. On May 9, 2013, Employee died following a saddle
pulmonary embolism, which related to the immobility that
resulted from her workplace injury. Employee's husband,
Karl Knutter ("Husband"), asserted a claim for
dependent benefits. On July 17, 2015, Husband died. After
Husband's death, Employee and Husband's son, Michael
Knutter ("Claimant"), was substituted as the
personal representative of Husband.
Employer raises four points on appeal. Points 1-3 challenge
the award as not based on sufficient competent evidence.
Point 4 challenges the basis of Claimant's substitution
for Husband. Because there was sufficient competent evidence
to support the Commission's award, and because
Employer's specific challenge to the basis for
Claimant's substitution was not raised below, we affirm.
appeal, this Court reviews the Commission's decision to
determine if it is 'supported by competent and
substantial evidence upon the whole record.'"
Johme v. St. John's Mercy Healthcare,
366 S.W.3d 504, 509 (Mo. banc 2012) (quoting Mo. Const. Art.
V, § 18). This Court:
may modify, reverse, remand for rehearing, or set aside the
award upon any of the following grounds and no other:
(1) That the [C]ommission acted without or in excess of its
(2) That the award was procured by fraud;
(3) That the facts found by the [C]ommission do not support
the award; [or]
(4) That there was not sufficient competent evidence in the
record to warrant the making of the award.
Court reviews questions of law de novo, but gives
deference to the Commission on issues of fact, credibility
determinations, and the weight the Commission afforded to
conflicting evidence. Malam v. State, Dept. of
Corrs., 492 S.W.3d 926, 928 (Mo. banc 2016). When
medical causation is not within common experience or
knowledge, it must be established by scientific or medical
evidence that shows the relationship between the
claimant's condition and the asserted cause. Beatrice
v. Curators of Univ. of Mo., 438 S.W.3d 426, 435 (Mo.
App. W.D. 2014). Medical opinion testimony as to causation is
competent, and can be viewed as substantial evidence.
Id. This Court affords the Commission deference
"in resolving conflicting medical testimony given by
various expert witnesses." Cole v. Alan Wire
Co., 521 S.W.3d 308, 310 (Mo. App. S.D. 2017).
March 25, 2013, Employee, while in the course and scope of
her employment, fractured her ankle when she slipped and fell
on ice outside of her workplace. Initially, Employee was
given a protective splint and crutches to assist with her
non-weight bearing instructions. On April 1, 2013, Employee
saw an orthopedic physician, Dr. Robert Bennett ("Dr.
Bennett"). Dr. Bennett's notes indicated that
Employee had "slipped and put some pressure on [her
ankle] since the time of injury" so he elected to treat
her with a short-leg, non-walking cast and a wheelchair was
also prescribed. On May 3, 2013, Employee again saw Dr.
Bennett. He noted that Employee's previous cast was
"quite loose as her swelling ha[d] decreased" and
her fracture was healing well. Employee received a new
short-leg cast, and Dr. Bennett scheduled a follow-up
appointment for two weeks later.
9, 2013, Employee experienced shortness of breath while she
was sitting on the toilet, and was transported to the
Emergency Department by ambulance. She suffered a saddle
pulmonary embolism and died the same day. Husband timely
asserted a claim for dependent benefits as a relative by
marriage of a deceased employee. However, while the
underlying claim was still pending, Husband died on July 17,
2015. On July 31, 2015, Claimant filed a "Motion for
Substitution of Party and Suggestion of Death." After
oral argument before the Administrative Law Judge
("ALJ"), Claimant's ...