On May 21, 2019, in a case of first impression, the Missouri Court of Appeals for the Eastern District, in Hegger v. Valley Farm Dairy Co., ruled that a workers compensation insurer could be held liable to provide enhanced mesothelioma benefits pursuant to a 2014 statute, where the insured employer ceased to exist prior to the statute’s effective date.
The court found that the workers compensation policy in place at the time of the injured employee’s last exposure to asbestos in 1984 covered the employer’s entire liability under the Workers' Compensation Act. Thus, the court concluded that the now-defunct employer had “insured its liability” and elected to provide the enhanced benefits. The court also determined that, although the statute did not exist when the insurer wrote the policy, state law provides that compensable benefit amounts are determined by the statutory benefit levels in effect on the date of the injury, not at the time that the policy is written.
This decision could be appealed. NCCI will monitor for further developments.
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