Notice from the Division of Workers' Compensation
Monday, May 18, 2020
Notice from the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations
Division of Workers’ Compensation
1736 E. Sunshine, Suite 610
Springfield, MO 65804
The Division of Worker’s Compensation is discouraging in-person meetings, but is making every attempt to accommodate issues by conference calls. If there is an issue that requires a conference call with an ALJ attorneys can call the docket clerk, Ginger Williams, at 888-4102. These are stressful times personally and our staff is being challenged, professionally, so please be cordial and professional when dealing with our staff.
Settlement stipulations are being approved by email through the Springfield docketing email: SGFDocketing@labor.mo.gov. If the case involves a pro se claimant who has not appeared and acknowledged his/her rights under the Missouri Worker’s Compensation Statutes a conference call can be scheduled to resolve the issue.
No final hearings are being held except for those which demonstrate an extreme need to be adjudicated at this time. Please note we have to report to the Division administration why a Final hearing has to be conducted as scheduled.
Hardship Hearings and Section 203 Hearings are being held in person. In the event that a hearing is to be held there will be a pre-hearing conference call held to discuss the procedures to be followed for the hearing. The Hearing procedures are as follows:
1. Hardship hearing requests will be set as soon as possible, but no more than 60 days from the filing of the Request for Hearing (30 days for a Section 203 Request).
2. Within a week of the Hardship Hearing date a conference call will be scheduled with the ALJ and attorneys, at which time building access, procedure, and witnesses will be discussed. The following topics will be discussed:
a. The parties are not to bring visitors with them into the building. If they need support such as a spouse who will not testify, those individuals need to remain outside. Most of our attendees travel by car, so it is anticipated most can wait in their vehicle.
b. If the Employer/Insurer wants a representative to be present who will not testify we will encourage that participation to be by phone.
c. Any Attorney/Client meetings should occur prior to entering the DWC building. The goal is to minimize the number of people and time in the building.
d. The hearing room will be organized to accommodate social distancing. Chairs will be removed and/or relocated to distance the people a minimum of six feet.
e. If someone is particularly concerned, everyone will be instructed to wear a mask, however, witnesses will need to be unmasked during their testimony.
f. The parties will be instructed to submit exhibits prior to the start of the hearing via Box.Com. Accommodation will be made if a party’s trial strategy needs for the exhibit to only be made at the time of the trial. However, we will not know about that until the time of trial since any disclosure will remove the element of surprise.
3. If the building is still locked down on the date of the hearing then provision will be made to let the parties and witnesses into the building.
4. At the time of the hearing all rooms not in use shall have the doors closed. This limits access and discourages the individuals from spending unnecessary time in the building.
5. At the conclusion of the hearing the ALJ will request the parties to exit the building as soon as possible.
In-person Pre-hearing dockets have been amended to require a status update by letter/email. The status update should be similar to what most of the attorneys present when requesting a continuance of a matter. We want to keep dockets moving, but the limitation of in-person meetings has left us with the decision of further delays or remote reporting about the case. We have opted to have the parties report through emails, but in the event there is an issue that needs to be discussed the ALJs are still available via conference call. If you receive a Pre-Hearing Notice and require a discussion with the ALJ please contact the docket clerk.
Conference settings will still occur by conference calls. All out of town dockets are suspended until the end of June. If you require a Section 203 or Hardship Hearing it will only be held in Springfield. The Springfield office is now responsible for the Lamar, Lebanon, Branson West and West Plains dockets.