Linda Mantia was an employee of the Missouri Department of Transportation. Her job was to clean up highway accidents. Over the course of 20 years, she was present at over 1000 accident scenes, involving, as the Missouri court of appeals described it, “catastrophic injury, dismemberment, and death.”
Linda developed a major depressive disorder as a result of her experiences, which, among others, included accidentally kicking a victim’s severed head.
The State of Missouri does not deny that Linda suffers from psychological disability as a result of these experiences.
Instead, it has argued all the way to the Supreme Court of Missouri that Linda wasn’t the only MODOT employee at these scenes, so that the stress she encountered was neither extraordinary nor unusual, when compared to her fellow workers.
A fine point, to be sure, but one on which cases like this turn, after years and years of slowly working their way through the workers’ compensation system.
Linda filed her claim in 2008. It should be resolved this year. But what is justice here? What is fair? The workers’ compensation system is designed to consider the interests of both employers and employees equally, so both sides of the story deserve their day in court. And, eventually, closure.
If MODOT wins, the average taxpayer will save a few pennies. If Linda wins, she’ll get some money, and maybe some treatment, but will her life be that much better, considering what she’s gone through? I hope so, but after 40 years of helping people like Linda, I’m pretty sure she’d give the money back in return for her health.
To learn more about Linda’s case, you can check out Missourinet’s account here.