Monday, May 6, 2013

Court denies joinder of joint employer

In McGuire v Christian County and Missouri Association of Counties, 2014 Mo. App. Lexis 502 (May 5, 2014), the court of appeals affirmed the Commission which rejected joinder by Christian County of Ozark Baseball Club based on 287.130.  Claimant worked security at a baseball game after his regular job at Christian County, he sustained injuries dealing with an intoxicated suspect, and ultimately underwent multiple back surgeries and did not return to law enforcement.

The employer settled its claim but sought contribution from OBC of about $56,000 which was 14.8% of the settlement.  The court concluded that 287.130 allowed the claimant to join parties but did not allow a court to compel joinder and the employer could seek any remedies in separate legal proceedings.  "The omission of any joinder provision in  section 287.130 demonstrates that the legislature did not intend to authorize the joinder of any alleged joint employers against whom a claim had not been filed by the employee," when 287.040 had joinder language. 

The ALJ had allowed joinder noting that it was the "fair" thing to do. 
The Commission noted in DOLIR, 4-24-2013:  "The legislature gave the employee the option to decide against which of several joint employers he wishes to proceed. Here, employee chose CCSD. CCSD is bound by employee’s choice. But CCSD is not without a remedy, for CCSD can seek contribution against OBC in a "subsequent action for contribution." .... That being so, it is clear that OBC was not a necessary party to employee’s workers’ compensation claim."

The ALJ  granted joinder in an employer's motion filed years after a temporary award, and more than 5 years after the original accident based on an incorrect statutory provision, 287.040 rather than 287.130.  At the hearing for joinder, the ALJ noted that counsel for OBC failed to articulate any objection and asked for more time to research the issue.   The Commission found the ALJ erred as a matter of law permitting joinder in these circumstances and the decision violated due process and exceeded authority as it went beyond the issues stipulated at trial. 

ALJ Mahon
Atty:  Montgomery, Greenwald
Experts:  Bennoch