Deficient Appellate Brief Sinks Mo. Worker's Challenge of Commission Ruling

03 Mar, 2023 Frank Ferreri

                               

St. Louis, MO (WorkersCompensation.com) -- Winning a case in court takes a strong legal argument, but it also requires following the rules for filings, briefs, and the like. 

As a worker learned in Lewis v. State of Missouri, Second Injury Fund, No. ED110715 (Mo. Ct. App. 02/14/23), the substance of a case might never see the light of day if an appellate brief doesn’t follow states rules of civil procedure. 

The worker filed a workers’ compensation claim against his employer and Missouri’s Second Injury Fund for an alleged workplace injury.  

An administrative law judge dismissed the claims, so the worker applied for review, challenging the dismissal of the Second Injury Fund claim. The Commission dismissed the worker’s application for review, finding that records did not suggest or reveal “any irregularity in providing [the worker] or his attorney due notice” of the dismissal orders. 

The Commission also pointed out that the worker provided no reason for failing to prosecute his claim for more than eight and a half years, and he did not refile his claims before the two-year statute of limitation period lapsed.  

The worker appealed to court. 

In Missouri, the dismissal of a workers’ compensation claim is “deemed an award,” and a court will modify the award if: 

  • The Commission acted without or in excess of its powers. 
  • The award was procured by fraud. 
  • The facts found by the commission do not support the award. 
  • There wasn’t sufficient competent evidence in the record to warrant the making of the award. 

In the worker’s case, the court determined that the worker didn’t comply with appellate briefing rules and, as a result, “preserve[d] nothing for our review.” 

In particular, the worker did not include adequate “points relied on” in his brief, the purpose of which is “to provide the respondent with notice of the precise matter which must be answered and to inform the court of the issues presented.” 

Where did the worker’s points go wrong? The court explained how they were insufficient: 

  • It was unclear what the points relied on were or what they alleged. 
  • The worker only recited abstract statements of law with no citation, which seemed “to partially mirror the standard of review.” 
  • Even in the paragraphs under the points, it was unclear what the worker was arguing the Commission erred in doing. 

Based on the worker’s deficient brief and failure to follow briefing rules, the court decided to dismiss his appeal. 

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    About The Author

    • Frank Ferreri

      Frank Ferreri, M.A., J.D. covers workers' compensation legal issues. He has published books, articles, and other material on multiple areas of employment, insurance, and disability law. Frank received his master's degree from the University of South Florida and juris doctor from the University of Florida Levin College of Law.

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