WASHINGTON, D.C. – The American Insurance Association (AIA) says Missouri legislation, SB 8, does more harm than good in addressing defects within the state’s workers’ compensation system. AIA believes that the bill needlessly exposes employers to additional costs, liabilities, and lawsuits. AIA is therefore supporting HB 162 because it protects workers and employers in Missouri by clarifying and strengthening workers’ compensation law with certainty and specificity.
“The ‘fix’ in SB 8 is worse than the ‘cure,’” said Bruce Wood, AIA associate general counsel and director, workers’ compensation. “While this legislation purports to fix two major defects in Missouri’s workers’ compensation system, its intent is actually contrary. It’s false advertising.”
Proponents of SB 8 claim that the bill restores co-employee immunity in workers’ compensation, a problem caused by the Missouri Court of Appeals’ 2010 decision in Robinson v. Hooker that found an employee responsible for injuries to a co-worker within the course and scope of employment. Also, proponents assert that the bill corrects the result of a St. Louis trial court decision (Gray v. A.W. Chesterton, et al. and Cicerelli v. Certainteed Corp., et al.) that eliminated exclusive remedy protection, subjecting employers to tort suits in claims involving occupational diseases, thereby tearing out the foundation of Missouri’s workers’ compensation system. It accomplishes the opposite..
“SB 8 seriously undermines the fundamental exclusive remedy principle of Missouri’s workers’ compensation system,” said Wood. “If adopted, the result will be extensive litigation and higher costs for employers. It unwisely abolishes subrogation and subjects employers to lawsuits from injuries caused by third-parties or products. It would transfers the cost of a third party’s torts to the workers’ compensation system and effectively forces employers to be involved in third party tort suits where their alleged responsibility for the injury will be at issue.”
Meanwhile HB 162, legislation that has already passed the House and is now pending in the Senate, does what its proponents say it does – it corrects the two errant court decisions that subject employees to tort suits by their co-workers and subject employers to tort suits in claims involving occupational disease. The bill is straightforward and honest in its intent.
“Missouri’s growing economy deserves a stable workers’ compensation system that retains the “exclusive remedy” protection for workers and employers, said Wood. “AIA urges the Missouri Legislature to reject S.B 8, adopt H.B 162, and cleanup bad case law that is jeopardizing the stability of Missouri’s workers’ compensation system.