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Anderson v. Uninsured Employers' Fund

Court of Workers Compensation of Montana

September 16, 1994

LORRAINE ANDERSON Petitioner
v.
UNINSURED EMPLOYERS' FUND Respondent/Insurer for CHEYENNE ENTERPRISES Employer.

          FINDINGS OF FACT, CONCLUSIONS OF LAW AND JUDGMENT

          Mike McCarter JUDGE

         This case comes to the Court on stipulated facts and exhibits and a deposition of James M. Robinson, Jr. The parties deemed a trial unnecessary.

         Having considered the deposition, exhibits, the parties' proposed findings of fact and conclusions of laws, and briefs, the Court makes the following:

         Findings of Fact

         1. Cheyenne Enterprises (Cheyenne) is a trucking firm engaged in hauling logs and wood chips. It is owned and operated by James M. Robinson, Jr. (Robinson), as a sole proprietorship. The Northern Cheyenne Tribe has no ownership interest in the firm.

         2. Robinson is an enrolled member of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe and lives in Busby, Montana, which is within the boundaries of the Northern Cheyenne Reservation (Reservation).

         3. In January 1990 Cheyenne had a fleet of approximately six trucks. One was a truck for hauling wood chips. The other trucks were logging trucks.

         4. When not in use the trucks were parked on property owned by Robinson which was located outside the Reservation boundaries in Ashland, Montana. Maintenance on the trucks was performed at the Ashland property or in Billings, Montana, which is also outside the Reservation. An above-ground gasoline storage tank was also located on the Ashland property and was used by Cheyenne employees to fill up the trucks. (Refueling was also done on the Reservation.)

         5. Cheyenne's trucking operations were not limited to the Reservation. It conducted substantial business activities outside the Reservation and within the State of Montana. Logging trucks transported logs from logging sites inside the reservation to sawmills outside the Reservation. The company regularly hauled chips from the Northern Cheyenne Pine Company, a sawmill located outside Reservation boundaries in Ashland, Montana, to Forsyth, Montana, which is also outside Reservation boundaries. The usual route between Ashland and Forsyth traverses the Northern Cheyenne Reservation. The total driving distance between the two towns is 80 miles, of which 35 miles are on the Reservation. Of the 35 miles through the Reservation, most of the miles are on U.S. Highway 212, the remainder on State Highway 39. A Montana highway map shows that the route is the shortest one over improved roads.

         6.In January 1990 Cheyenne did not maintain a trucking terminal within the Reservation. However, Robinson considered the office where his bookkeeping was done to be Cheyenne's office. That office was in Lame Deer, Montana, which is within the Reservation, but was owned or rented by the bookkeeping service. Robinson did manage his business primarily from the Reservation. He typically delivered paychecks to his employees while on the Reservation but at times he delivered them in Ashland.

         7.Cheyenne hired both Indians and non-Indians. It utilized Montana Job Service to secure employees. Montana Job Service did not maintain an office on the Reservation.

         8.Robinson provided some of his employees with lodging at a house which was located on his Ashland property.

         9.William C. Anderson (Anderson), the deceased husband of the petitioner, was hired by Cheyenne in February 1989. Anderson was notified of the job opening through the Montana Job Service.

         10.Over the next eleven months Anderson was a driver for Cheyenne. While he occasionally drove a logging truck, he was primarily responsible for transporting wood chips from the sawmill in Ashland to a rail site in Forsyth. On one occasion he also picked up a trailer in Kansas and brought it back to Montana.

         11.Robinson also performed some mechanical work on trucks. The mechanical work performed by Anderson was done at Robinson's Ashland property.

         12.During Anderson's employment, the truck used for hauling wood chips was kept at Robinson's ...


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