Important distinction for Fund liability- First PTD Award interpreting SB1

Gattenby v. Treasurer – Western District Court of Appeals WD80052, 2/28/2017

This is the first Court of Appeals case to interpret Senate Bill 1 since it came into effect on 1/1/2014. Senate Bill 1 created, among other things, a new Section 287.220.3 in Missouri Workers’ Compensation. This case harmonizes sections 287.220.2 and 287.220.3 of the MO Work Comp law.

Mr. Gattenby was injured at work in 2014 and also had several pre-existing injuries that all occurred before 2014.  Mr. Gattenby alleged he was permanently and totally disabled due to the combination of his injuries against the Second Injury Fund. The argument was over whether 287.220.2 or 287.220.3 applied.

The Court explained that 287.220.3 applied only where both the preexisting and the primary injuries occur after January 1, 2014. In support of its analysis, the Court stated, 287.220.2 plainly refers to “previous disability,” whereas 287.220.3 does not.

Because Mr. Gattenby’s claim against the SIF involved pre-existing injuries that resulted in disability before 1/1/2014, subsection 287.220.2 is controlling.

This opinion is very important because up till this point the Second Injury Fund maintained the position that all new cases with a primary work injury occurring after 1/1/2014 was controlled under the “new law” and standards of Section 287.220.3.

This case further bolsters statutory interpretation for Fund responsibility for PPD cases under 287.220.2 where the primary injury is after 1/1/2014 and the pre-existing injury is before 1/1/2014.