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Missouri: Dysfunction Junction, What's Your Function?

September 25, 2014 (2 min read)

There’s a new way to tap the Missouri second injury fund:  bad parents.

The Fund provides compensation when prior conditions combine with a new work accident. This rationale applies easily with contralateral orthopedic injuries because the injuries synergistically combine to create a greater overall disability.  The commission has recognized synergy also applies to systemic impairments like incontinence and obesity.   What is often over-looked is that Fund liability may also be based on bad parents.

The relationship between childhood trauma and work-place disability has received limited scientific study.  There appears to be a relationship between adult disability and experiencing  neglect, abuse or witnessing violence according to an older study, “Childhood Trauma and employment disability” in Int. J. of Psychiatry Medicine. 

The Commission has noted this impact of chaotic childhood on an ability to maintain employment. 

In the recent case Collins v Aztar Corporation, 2014 MO WCLR Lexis 103 (, 2014 MO WCLR Lexis 103 (Lexis Advance), the commission considered uncontested psychiatric testimony that claimant’s psychiatric disability from abusive experiences as a child contributed to her overall inability to work. 

In Brawley v City of St. Louis, 2010 Mo WCLR Lexis 10 (, 2010 Mo WCLR Lexis 10 (Lexis Advance), an expert related a dysfunctional background on an inability to getting along with co-workers and anger management issues with supervisors. 

In Royal v Advantica, 2005 MO WCLR Lexis 89 (, 2005 MO WCLR Lexis 89 (Lexis Advance),an expert indicated that  the absence of a nurturing childhood caused workers to seek approval and dependency on physicians. 

In Nyberg v Ford Motor Co., 2008 MO WCLR Lexis 31 (, 2008 MO WCLR Lexis 31 (Lexis Advance), it was suggested that dysfunctional childhood predisposed the worker to chronic pain issues. 

In Sullivan v Advanced Drywall Systems, 2006 Mo WCLR Lexis 184 (, 2006 Mo WCLR Lexis 184 (Lexis Advance), the ALJ denied benefits when claimant never sought treatment for a chaotic, disruptive and difficult childhood.   It was “highly doubtful” claimant considered the experience still affected him. 

The issue of bad parents remains a viable element of a PTD psych claim involving the Fund.   Fund liability derives from  the potential the condition may combine with a work injury.   Nearly everyone can be regarded as disabled because any injured worker can tell a story about not getting along with siblings or fighting with parents or times when life was not fully nurturing.  But why stop at mommy dearest?  How about difficult children or ex-spouses?   How about mental suffering dealing with a special needs cat?

It is one thing to suggest that dysfunctional families may damage some workers. It is quite another thing to suggest that comp is the remedy for any wrong in any relationships.     “Mom always liked you best” is great comedy but shouldn’t be a cause of action against the Fund.

Source: Martin Klug, Huck, Howe & Tobin. Read Martin Klug’s Mo. Workers’ Comp Alerts.

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