Workers' Compensaton Reform (Or Not) - Has the Exclusive Remedy Doctrine Been Weakened?

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Workers' Compensation Reform (Or Not) - Has the Exclusive Remedy Doctrine Been Weakened?

William E. Paasch

The Missouri General Assembly, in August 2005, enacted sweeping amendments to the Missouri Workers' Compensation Law.  The General Assembly passed these changes to restore blance to a system that was viewed to have tipped far too much in the employees' favor and to the great detriment of employers in Missouri.

Labor groups and the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys quickly challenged the amended law.  In fall 2005, they mounted a constitutional attack to the new law.  These interests claimed the Workers' Compensation Law constitutes an "agreement" between labor, employers, and the State of Missouri.  They argued the restriction in the 2005 amendments that placed restrictions on what constitute compensable workers' compensation claims violated the rights of labor under the compact.

Labor's challenge quickly reached the Missouri Supreme Court.  There, however, the case languished for three years until the Supreme Court handed down its decision in Missouri Alliance for Retired Americans v. Missouri Dep't of Labor & Industrial Relations, 277 S.W.3d 670 (Mo. banc 2009), in February 2009.

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