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.

This update was first published in HB’s Medicare Secondary Payer Report. As the reporting deadline draws nearer, HB is hosting another seminar on the subject titled “Medicare Mandatory Reporting Requirements: What You Need to Know About Medicare, Medicate & SCHIP” to be held in Marina del Rey, Calif., on Sept. 21, 2010.