The Kansas Supreme Court released the following published decision today:
Appeal No. 113,412: Estate of Terrill L. Graber v. Dillon Companies
Archived oral argument video
The Kansas Supreme Court defined the term "idiopathic causes" under the Kansas Workers Compensation Act and revived an injured worker's claim against Dillon Companies after the worker fell down a workplace stairway for reasons that remain a mystery.
Graber worked as a forklift operator at Jackson's Dairy, a Dillon Companies subsidiary. Jackson's required Graber to attend a paid safety meeting at the nearby Dillon headquarters. When the meeting ended, Graber walked to a restroom near the stairs. He ended up face down on a landing at about the midpoint on the stairway, shattering or breaking three vertebra in his neck. The accident's cause remains a mystery.
Dillon argued the fall's cause was unknown, which meant Graber's injuries arose from an idiopathic cause and were not compensable. In 2011 the Legislature amended the workers' compensation law to exclude any accident or injury that "arose either directly or indirectly fromidiopathic causes," but did not define the term.
In a unanimous opinion written by Justice Dan Biles, the court decided the term means medical conditions or medical events of unknown origin that are peculiar to the injured individual. The court's decision reversed the interpretation given by the Workers Compensation Appeals Board, which denied Graber compensation. The court returned the claim to the board for reconsideration based on the court's definition.Kansas Court of Appeals decisions released today