KANSAS CITY — Parties on both sides of a workers’ compensation claim are learning the hard way that an open-ended settlement can be costly in the world of MSP.
On Aug. 12, Stephanie Meyer-Linquist filed suit in Jackson County Circuit Court against Polsinelli Shughart, the law firm where she worked when she developed carpal tunnel syndrome. Meyer-Linquist seeks payment from the firm’s insurance company for the $430,680 CMS said she should receive for her lifelong medical expenses (Stephanie Meyer-Linquist v. Polsinelli Shughart P.C., No. 1016-CV25133, 16th Jud. Cir. Ct., Jackson Co., Mo.).
Meyer-Linquist, a paralegal, developed carpal tunnel syndrome and severe shoulder pain and eventually had multiple surgeries. She is no longer able to work.
Meyer-Linquist originally agreed to an $85,000 lump sum payment from the Kansas City law firm, which is now Shughart Thomson & Kilroy. The settlement left open the question of how much Meyer-Linquist would receive for lifelong medical expenses. That amount was to be determined by CMS. In March, CMS provided the $430,680 figure, which was $189,000 more than Federal Insurance Company, the firm’s insurer, had proposed to CMS. Federal paid the initial $85,000, but nothing on the Medicare set aside.
The complaint seeks the Medicare payment and attorney fees. According to the court docket the case is before Judge Peggy Stevens McGraw.
Meyer-Linquist’s attorney, Frederick W. Bryant of Rubins, Kase, Hager, Cambiano & Bryant in Kansas City, said that he noticed Sughart Thomson & Kilroy. Within hours of the firm being contacted by the media for comment on the suit, Federal called him to work out a settlement. Bryant said he and Federal are in the process of finalizing an annuity.
There is a lesson to be learned, Bryant said: Don’t agree to an open-ended settlement unless you’re willing to bet on what CMS will award. A clause can be negotiated into a settlement that allows renegotiation if the CMS figure is unsatisfactory, he said.
Michael Wilson, of Wilson & Jacob in Kansas City, represents Federal.