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bandaged knee.jpgOn June 14, 2011, the Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District, issued an opinion addressing the applicability of the prevailing factor standard in Missouri workers’ compensation cases. The claimant/employee sought workers’ compensation benefits after suffering a torn lateral meniscus during an on the job accident. Because the claimant had a degenerative arthritic condition, arthroscopy was not an option. Instead, a total knee replacement was required.

The employer denied coverage for the total knee replacement, asserting that the torn lateral meniscus was not the prevailing factor in causing the need for the total knee replacement. The Administrative Law Judge agreed, as well as the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission.

The Court of Appeals, however, did not agree, thereby reversing the decision. The Court held that, once it is determined that a compensable injury has occurred, the test for determining if treatment should be covered is whether the treatment is reasonably required to cure and relieve the effects of the injury. In other words, prevailing factor need not be demonstrated when determining if a particular treatment is necessary following a compensable injury. The case is Tillotson v. St. Joseph Medical Center.

divorce.jpgThe Missouri Court of Appeals, Southern District, recently upheld a trial court’s judgment in G.C. v. Greene County Juvenile Office, that terminated a father’s parental rights. The court held that the evidence showed that the father had anger issues, that the father did not recognize that the mother could not care for the child due to her mental illness, and that the father could not support the child since he chose to remain without a job. The court held it was in the child’s best interest to terminate the parental rights of the father.

In Allen v. Allen, the mother was appealing the trial court’s modification of child custody. The mother argued that the guardian ad litem that was appointed did not properly fulfill its duties, by not interviewing the child about alleged child abuse by his father. The appeals court held that the child had been interviewed too often, and any allegations of child abuse by the father had already been found to be not credible. The Southern District Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment.

parent and child.JPGTypically when a marriage ends in divorce in Missouri, a custody and visitation plan is entered by the court setting forth the rights of each parent. Often times, one parent stays in the family residence and one establishes another residence in the same area. Sometimes following a divorce, circumstances may change and a parent with custody of a child may wish to relocate along with the child. In Missouri, there are strict rules in place regarding child relocations.

Missouri has a statute that governs child relocation after a divorce, R.S.Mo. 452.377. That statute defines relocation as a change in a child’s principal residence lasting 90 days or longer. The statute further states that notice of any proposed relocation must be given to anyone that has custody or visitation rights with respect to the child being relocated. Certain information must be contained in the notice, and the notice must be provided at least 60 days prior to the proposed relocation date. The child may then be relocated once the 60 day period expires, unless a parent files a motion with the court asking the court to prevent the proposed relocation. If such a motion is filed timely, then the court will decide whether the proposed relocation is in the best interest of the child.

If you are facing a situation involving a child relocation following divorce, please contact the attorneys at Ponder Zimmermann LLC.

independence courthouse.jpgKansas City, Missouri clinic Health Centers of America-Kansas City and Dr. Carol Ann Ryser have settled a claim against them for treating false diagnosis. This is only one of several lawsuits against the defendants. Patients of the doctor and clinic were being treated for diseases they did not have, and often reported feeling worse after the treatment than they did before the treatment.

Allegations against Dr. Ryser include that she was trying to make money off of selling supplements to her patients, and in order to do so, was diagnosing patients with ailments they did not have so that they would buy the supplements. The specific case that settled in October 2010 involved a woman who was diagnosed by Ryser as having Lyme disease, and she was treated for months with various antibiotics and supplements before going to the ER in January 2009 and being diagnosed correctly with hyperthyroidism.

unemployment map.pngWith many Missourians currently feeling the effects of the sluggish economy, seeking “unemployment benefits”: has become a common practice for many Missouri residents. Unfortunately, many claimants are denied benefits that they should be entitled to receive. The Missouri Court of Appeals recently decided a case that discussed whether a worker “voluntarily” left her position.

Under Missouri unemployment benefits law, claimants are not entitled to benefits if they left work voluntarily. “288.050 RSMo”: Whether an employee left their position voluntarily is not always such a clear question. The Missouri Court of Appeals recently determined that a woman who was experiencing car problems and was unable to arrive to work did not voluntarily quit her job. The underlying decision had determined that she had left voluntarily, but the Missouri Court of Appeals determined that because she had called into work and expressed a desire not to lose her job, she did not leave voluntarily.
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Uhaul.jpgMissouri child custody and visitation laws address what a parent must do in order to move residences with their child. Under RSMo Section 452.377, a parent who has custody or visitation of a child and wishes to relocate the residence of a child must give notice to any other party with custody or visitation rights, at least 60 days before the child can be relocated. The other party can move the court to prevent the relocation, in which case a hearing will be held. The parent seeking to relocate must show that the move is in the best interests of the child, and that they are not moving homes in an effort to disrupt or deprive visitation and custody with the other parent.

In Mantonya v. Mantonya, WD71368, the Missouri Court of Appeals upheld a trial court’s decision that denied a mother a 15-mile relocation. The mother planned to move from Clinton, Missouri, to Ulrich, Missouri, 15 miles away. The mother gave proper notice to her ex-husband, and he moved to prevent the relocation. Mother wished to relocate the children 15 miles away so she could live with her soon to be husband. At the hearing, mother argued relocation was in the best interest of the children because it offered them a better, larger house to live in. Father argued it was not, because the school system was not as good. The court held that it was in the best interest of the children to deny the proposed relocation. Mother appealed.
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Marijuana.jpgSt. Louis federal authorities arrested 24 people in connection with a St. Louis marijuana smuggling ring that stretched from Arizona to St. Louis, Missouri. David Ingram Henderson, of Maryland Heights, Missouri, was considered the ringleader of the drug operation that, since 2006, has been transporting marijuana across the country.

The operation also included growing marijuana in several houses in St. Louis. It is alleged that over 1,000 kilograms of marijuana were brought into St. Louis as a result of this drug operation. The suspects allegedly transported the money back to Arizona by car, plane and bus, and laundered the money through banks and casinos. For example, some members of this organization went to Ameristar Casino in St. Charles, Missouri, and inserted $13,660 in slot machines and immediately printed out vouchers, which they cashed in with the cashier. They never actually played the slot machines. This drug operation also involved flying to Amsterdam to obtain marijuana seeds.
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Burned Truck.jpgThe criminal trial of two men allegedly involved in a brutal 1992 murder began on Tuesday in St. Louis Federal Court. James K. Kornhardt and Steven A. Mueller are accused of playing a role in the murder of Danny Coleman, who at the time of the murder was 38 years old.

Coleman was killed in a home on the 7800 block of Michigan Avenue in St. Louis and taken to Franklin County where his body was set on fire in his own truck. The prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Dittmeier, said during opening statements that Coleman’s wife, Karen Coleman, initiated a plot to murder her husband in order to obtain insurance money. Karen Coleman previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy and murder for hire.

embryo.jpgSt. Louis area family Jennifer and William McLaughlin, of Kirkwood, Missouri, have settled the custody battle they were involved in with Edward and Kerry Lambert of California. The McLaughlin’s attorney simply stated that the couples have agreed to resolve this dispute in accordance with the parties’ original agreement, and that all involved hope that the embryos will be raised with their siblings. It is unclear which couple is getting the embryos.

The McLaughlins obtained four frozen embryos from the Lamberts in 2009. The McLaughlins went on to have twins with two of the embryos in January 2010. The Lamberts filed a lawsuit in California, claiming that the McLaughlins breached their agreement by not returning the two unused embryos, because their agreement stated that if they did not use the embryos within a year they must be returned. The Lamberts wanted to give those embryos to another couple. The McLaughlins filed a lawsuit in St. Louis County, alleging that unique circumstances warranted them keeping the embryos. The McLaughlins were not sure at first if they wanted to use the remaining two embryos, but later decided they did want to expand their family and hoped to use those embryos to have more children. The McLaughlins currently have 7 children, two twins and five adopted children.
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dwi checkpoint.jpgMissouri DWI laws are one step closer to becoming stronger in Missouri, as the Senate passed Senate Bill 880 today. After reaching a compromise, the portion of the bill that was passed in the House that would allow blood draws without a warrant if there was a suspicion that the driver was driving while intoxicated was removed.

The Missouri House must now pass the Senate version of the bill. After that, Governor Nixon will have to sign the legislation into law. If Governor Nixon signs the bill, it would become law on August 28, 2010.

Update: Governor Nixon will sign the DWI reform bill into law in both St. Louis and Jefferson City on June 2, 2010. He will sign the bill first in St. Louis at 1:30 at the Missouri State Highway Patrol Super Site, and then will head to the Missouri Highway Patrol Training Academy in Jefferson City for a second signing.
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