FINDINGS OF FACT, CONCLUSIONS OF LAW AND
trial in this matter was held on March 1, 1994, in Kalispell,
Montana. Petitioner, Aetna Casualty & Insurance Co.
(Aetna) was represented by Mr. Charles E. McNeil. Respondent,
State Compensation Insurance Fund (State Fund), was
represented by Mr. Charles G. Adams. Claimant, Marla Smith,
was present and represented by Mr. Darrell S. Worm.
testified. Exhibits 1 through 6 were admitted into evidence
by stipulation of the parties. The parties also stipulated
that the depositions of claimant, Dr. Steven M. Martini, Dr.
James H. Mahnke and Dr. John Hilleboe may be considered part
of the record.
considered the pretrial order, the testimony presented at
trial, the demeanor and credibility of the witness, the
depositions and exhibits, and the arguments of the parties,
the Court makes the following:
Claimant is 40 years old, married, and lives in Columbia
Claimant began working for Crop Hail Management in Kalispell,
Montana, in 1987. While at Crop Hail Management, she worked
as an accounts receivable clerk, a data entry clerk, and an
Prior to her injury, claimant was intermittently treated for
low-back pain. (Ex. 1-1).
February 28, 1989, claimant injured her low-back while
attempting to lift a box at work.
the time of claimant's injury, Crop Hail Management was
insured by the State Fund, which accepted liability for
Following her February 1989 injury, the claimant initially
sought treatment from Dr. Louise Swanberg, who first saw
claimant on April 27, 1987. Thereafter, Dr. John Hilleboe, an
orthopedic surgeon, treated claimant commencing on May 24,
May 12, 1989 MRI of claimant's back disclosed a herniated
nucleus pulposus at the L4-5 disc and a degenerated disc at
L5-S1. The MRI finding was consistent with claimant's
complaints of pain in her buttock and down her left leg. Dr.
Hilleboe specifically attributed claimant's symptoms to
L5 nerve root involvement.
July 14, 1989 Dr. Hilleboe performed a laminectomy and disc
excision at the L4-5 level on claimant. He also explored the
L5-S1 disc, which appeared normal.
Hilleboe released claimant to return to work in October of
1989. She returned to work at Crop Hail Management in
November of 1989.
State Fund paid claimant temporary total disability benefits
at the weekly rate of $114.20 from July 22, 1989 to October
2, 1989. The State Fund also paid an impairment award based
upon a ...