The Missouri Supreme Court released a decision Thursday in a case involving Worker’s Compensation benefits for a Missouri Department of Transportation worker.
A three person panel within the state Labor Department had awarded Linda Mantia two-thirds of her salary for 200 weeks after she was diagnosed with multiple disorders from exposure to graphic scenes at fatality accidents while employed as a maintenance supervisor in St. Louis County.
In a unanimous decision written by Judge George W. Draper, the court said the panel didn’t apply proper standards in concluding Mantia’s mental injury was due to extraordinary and unusual work-related stress.
It said the evidence Mantia presented before the high court showed actual work events exposed her to stress, but there was no evidence presented that her work-related stress was extraordinary and unusual.
During arguments before the high bench, attorney Jeffrey Wright had said that Mantia’s experiences weren’t out of the ordinary for the type of work she did. He noted that she admitted as much while testifying before an administrative judge.
Arguing on behalf of Mantia, attorney Jeffery Swaney had offered graphic details of her experience, including one where she’d witnessed a person being beheaded, and while walking, inadvertently kicked the decapitated head.
In its decision, the Supreme Curt said there was confusion about the appropriate test to determine extraordinary and unusual stress, and said it was unclear whether Mantia could have presented evidence to meet the standard.
The Court reversed the Labor Department’s three person panel award and sent the case back to the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission for a “proper” review of Mantia’s claim.