Thursday, June 21, 2007

MO Court Allows Workers Comp Despite Religious Refusal of Blood Transfusion

In Wilcut v. Innovative Warehousing, (MO Ct. App., June 19, 2007), a Missouri appellate court reversed a decision by the state's Labor and Industrial Relations commission that had denied death benefits under the Workers Compensation Law to a Jehovah's Witness who had died as the result of refusing a blood transfusion. Floyd Wilcut was a truck driver who had been seriously injured in an accident. His life could have been saved if he had not refused the transfusion on religious grounds. His employer, after initially beginning to pay benefits, terminated them arguing that under the statute, no benefits were payable because Wilcut's death was the result of his "unreasonable refusal" to submit to medical treatment. The Court of Appeals disagreed, holding that Wilcut's "refusal was not unreasonable in light of his beliefs."