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Missouri: Nondependent Parents Fail to Show Worker’s Death Was Due to Idiopathic Condition

May 22, 2021 (1 min read)

A Missouri appellate court affirmed a decision by the state’s Labor and industrial Relations Commission that held a worker’s death from a heat stroke was a compensable accident, thus barring a tort action filed by the worker’s nondependent parents against the worker’s employer. In this relatively rare, “upside-down” case, the parents had sought to avoid Mo. Rev. Stat. § 287.240, pursuant to which, as nondependent relatives, they would receive no workers’ compensation death benefits [see, e.g., Etling v. Westport Heating & Cooling Servs., 92 S.W.3d 771, 2003 Mo. LEXIS 6 (Mo. 2003)]. They argued that their son’s death was causally related to an idiopathic condition—his morbid obesity. At the time of his death, the 23-year-old worker was 6’1” in height and weighed approximately 300 pounds. The Commission had determined that the worker’s obesity did not constitute an idiopathic condition and that while his obesity might have contributed to his death, the prevailing factor in causing the heat stroke and death had been the high temperatures and hard work that the worker had been performing. The appellate court said the burden was upon the parents to prove the idiopathic condition and that they had failed to do so.

Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the co-Editor-in-Chief and Feature National Columnist for the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation eNewsletter, is co-author of Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law(LexisNexis).

LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance.

See Halsey v. Townsend Tree Serv. Co., [2021 Mo. App. LEXIS 469 (Apr. 20, 2021)

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, §§ 96.01, 100.05.

Source: Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the nation’s leading authority on workers’ compensation law

For a more detailed discussion of the case, see

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