FROM THE MISSOURI LABOR AND INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS COMMISSION
Patricia Breckenridge, judge.
2014, Douglas Cosby injured his left knee at work. He
subsequently filed a workers' compensation claim against
his employer and the second injury fund alleging he was
totally or, alternatively, partially disabled as a result of
his knee injury combined with his preexisting disabilities.
Following an evidentiary hearing, an administrative law judge
("ALJ") determined Mr. Cosby was not entitled to
permanent total disability ("PTD") or permanent
partial disability ("PPD") benefits from the fund
pursuant to section 287.220.3. The labor and industrial
relations commission affirmed the ALJ's award. On appeal
to this Court, Mr. Cosby asserts the commission erroneously
interpreted section 287.220 to find he was not entitled to
PPD benefits from the fund because his knee injury occurred
after January 1, 2014. Alternatively, he contends
interpreting section 287.220.3(2) to not provide PPD benefits
from the fund violates the Missouri open courts provision as
well as his due process and equal protection rights.
commission did not erroneously conclude Mr. Cosby was not
entitled to PPD benefits under section 287.220.3(2), which
provides that PPD claims against the fund shall not be filed
for injuries occurring after January 1, 2014. Although Mr.
Cosby contends section 287.220.2 controls the award of PPD
benefits in this case because all his preexisting
disabilities occurred prior to January 1, 2014, the statute
defines the term "injuries" to mean injuries
arising out of or in the course of employment. Section
287.220.2, therefore, does not apply because Mr. Cosby's
knee injury, which arose out of the course of his employment,
occurred after January 1, 2014. Rather, section 287.220.3,
which by its plain and ordinary language pertains to all
claims against the fund for injuries occurring after January
1, 2014, applies and does not authorize an award of PPD
benefits to Mr. Cosby.
section 287.220.3, as applied to Mr. Cosby, does not violate
the open courts provision or his due process and equal
protection rights. Section 287.220.3(2)'s failure to
authorize PPD claims against the fund does not arbitrarily
deny access to Missouri courts; rather, it eliminates a
statutory cause of action - PPD claims against the fund -
after January 1, 2014. Additionally, Mr. Cosby's due
process violation argument conflates statutory ambiguity with
vagueness and, therefore, does not establish that section
287.220.3 violates his right to due process. Finally, while
section 287.220.3 treats claimants differently based on
whether their injuries occurred prior to January 1, 2014, or
whether the claimant is seeking PPD or PTD benefits, the
statute is not wholly irrational in that the fund was
insolvent at the time the legislature amended the statute to
eliminate PPD benefit claims against the fund. Accordingly,
section 287.220.3 satisfies the rational basis test. The
commission's decision is affirmed.
and Procedural Background
January 22, 2014, Mr. Cosby was working as a carpenter for
Drake Carpentry, Inc., when he fell off a ladder and injured
his knee. Mr. Cosby was diagnosed with a cartilaginous loose
body evident in the patellofemoral joint of the left knee. He
subsequently underwent knee surgery to remove the loose body
and otherwise repair the patellofemoral joint.
February 24, 2014, Mr. Cosby filed a claim for workers'
compensation against Drake Carpentry and the fund. Drake
Carpentry and Mr. Cosby reached a settlement with respect to
the January 2014 injury. He requested a hearing before an
ALJ, however, to determine the fund's liability for PTD
or PPD benefits. The ALJ conducted a hearing at which Mr.
Cosby testified regarding four preexisting conditions: (1) a
knee injury in 1974; (2) bilateral inguinal hernias in 2002;
(3) a left shoulder rotator cuff tear in 2004; and (4) a
right shoulder rotator cuff tear in 2008. He introduced
expert testimony that he suffered the following permanent
disability percentages: 30 percent PPD at the left knee for
the 2014 injury; 15 percent PPD at the left knee for his 1974
injury; 25 percent PPD at the left shoulder for the 2004
injury; and 25 percent PPD at the right shoulder for the 2008
28, 2016, the ALJ issued its award, finding Mr. Cosby was not
entitled to any benefits from the fund. In doing so, the ALJ
concluded Mr. Cosby was not entitled to PTD benefits because
he continued to work as a carpenter following the 2014
injury. The ALJ then reasoned that, because Mr.
Cosby's injury occurred after January 1, 2014, he was not
entitled to PPD benefits from the fund under section
287.220.3(2). Mr. Cosby appealed to the commission, which
affirmed the ALJ's award.
Cosby appeals. Because he challenges the constitutional
validity of section 287.220, this Court has exclusive
jurisdiction over the appeal. Mo. Const. art. V, sec. 3.
to article V, section 18 of the Missouri Constitution, this
Court reviews the commission's decision to determine if
it is "supported by competent and substantial evidence
upon the whole record." Additionally, section 287.495.1
provides, in pertinent part:
Upon appeal no additional evidence shall be heard and, in the
absence of fraud, the findings of fact made by the commission
within its powers shall be conclusive and binding. The court,
on appeal, shall review only questions of law and may modify,
reverse, remand for rehearing, or set aside the award upon
any of the following grounds and no other:
(1) That the commission acted without or in excess of its
(2) That the award was procured by fraud;
(3) That the facts found by the commission do not support the
(4) That there was not sufficient competent evidence in the
record to warrant the making of the award.
This Court reviews questions of law de novo.
Mantia v. Mo. Dep't of Transp., 529 S.W.3d 804,
808 (Mo. banc 2017).
first point, Mr. Cosby asserts the commission erred in
concluding the fund was not liable for PPD benefits because
he established he was entitled to such benefits under section
287.220.2. He contends the commission erroneously interpreted
and misapplied the law when it determined section
287.220.3(2) controlled because all of his preexisting
disabilities occurred prior to January 1, 2014, and section
287.220.2 can be interpreted to apply to such injuries. He
further asserts the commission failed to harmonize sections
287.220.2 and 287.220.3 in evaluating whether he was entitled
to PPD benefits.
interpreting statutes, this "[C]ourt must ascertain the
intent of the legislature by considering the plain and
ordinary meaning of the terms and give effect to that intent
if possible." Mantia, 529 S.W.3d at 809
(internal quotation omitted). "In determining the intent
and meaning of statutory language, the words must be
considered in context and sections of the statutes in pari
materia, as well as cognate sections, must be considered in
order to arrive at the true meaning and scope of the
words." S. Metro. Fire Prot. Dist. v. City of
Lee's Summit, 278 S.W.3d 659, 666 (Mo. banc 2009).
287.220 controls claims against the fund for PPD benefits. In
2013, section 287.220 was ...