In Missouri the legislature changed the statutes as they pertain to Occupational Diseases, effective 1/1/14. Occupational diseases were added to the exclusive remedy provision under the Missouri Worker's Compensation statute at set out in 287.120.1 and 287.120.2 RsMo. Effective 1/1/14, "All injuries arising out of and in the course of employment will be litigated before the Division of Worker's Compensation and benefits will be based upon Chapter 287 RSMo."
In 2005 Governor Blunt and the legislature had passed changes to the worker's compensation law that had the effect of removing from worker's compensation law in Missouri repetitive trauma claims such as carpal tunnel syndrome cases. This had the practical effect of leaving worker's without a remedy for their occupational disease cases. In response to this change in the statute, some Plaintiff's attorneys filed civil actions against their employers alleging that the employer could be liable in negligence if such negligence caused or contributed to cause the employee's injuries. An example of such cases is when an industrial worker was required to use oversized shovels and rakes to rake chips out of tanks in the beer brewing process. In such a case if it caused repetitive injuries to the hands and arms, the 2005 statute said such occupational diseases were no longer compensable.
In the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis our office filed such claims and the court ruled that negligence cases filed before 1/1/14 for injuries due to repetitive trauma at work state a claim and can be litigated in Circuit Court instead of in worker's compensation because the legislature in 2005 intended to take repetitive trauma out of the coverage of worker's compensation.
Now that the legislature has amended the statutes and put occupation disease cases into worker's compensation, carpal tunnel syndrome and repetitive activities causing injuries will have to be litigated only in the Division of Worker's Compensation because worker's compensation is declared to have exclusive jurisdication over such cases.