Workers' Compensation

Chris T. Archer, Esquire

Use of schedule C deductions as evidence of “special expense” approved and subtracted from gross receipts, including apportioned depreciation, in calculating compensation rate consistent with § 287.150.2, RSMo. Rader v. Werner Enterprises, Inc., No. 95905 (Mo. App. E.D.,  January, 10, 2012), Cohen, J.

Claimant was under an owner-operator agreement hauling beer from Werner Enterprises Inc, a distributor for Anheuser-Busch’s fine products. The contract provided for Nebraska law to be applied for workers’ compensation benefits and jurisdiction. Employer contested Missouri jurisdiction and employment at the hearing.

Claimant sustained injury to his back in an accident in to his back that eventually led to a three level fusion being performed.  The Employer contested medical causation for the surgeries performed based upon expert testimony. Claimant never returned to work after the accident and was provided work restriction.

The court affirmed Missouri jurisdiction over the case based upon the accident having occurred, citing prior precedent in Swallow v. Enterprise Truck Lines, Inc.,  894 S.W.2d 232 (Mo. App. 1995), that found Missouri jurisdiction in a similar case despite similar contract language. The court affirmed the commission, which found an employment relationship existed. The court found medical causation and found employer liable for permanent total disability.

An interesting additional issue was the method used for the calculation of the claimant’s compensation rate. The court approved the commission’s use of the claimant’s tax return and schedule C deductions including the apportioning of the claimant’s depreciation deduction for his tractor to be subtracted from reported gross receipts as “special expenses” consistent with § 287.250.2, RSMo.