FINDINGS OF FACT, CONCLUSIONS OF LAW AND
trial in this matter was held on March 8, 1994, in Helena,
Montana. Petitioner, Carl Larson (claimant), was present and
represented by Mr. James G. Edmiston. Respondent, CIGNA
Insurance Company (CIGNA), was represented by Ms. Sara R.
Sexe. Claimant testified on his own behalf. Michelle
Fairclough and Juanita Hooper also testified. The depositions
of Robert Wilson, JoAnn Gordon, Elmer Kobold, M.D., Michelle
Fairclough and William S. Shaw, M.D. were filed and
considered by the Court. Exhibits 1 through 10 were admitted
into evidence by stipulation of the parties. Exhibit 11 was
admitted over CIGNA's objection.
end of the hearing the Court made preliminary findings of
fact, as follows:
1. After his December 15, 1981 layoff from his employment,
claimant considered himself unable to work on account of his
heart condition. (Tr. at 121.)
2. CIGNA was made aware that claimant applied for Social
Security disability benefits because of his heart condition.
(Tr. at 118.) At least initially, CIGNA had no reason to know
that the hernia was disabling.
Court agreed to reexamine these findings in light of the
post-trial proposed findings of the parties. Having done so,
the Court affirms these preliminary findings and makes them
considered the Pretrial Order, the testimony presented at
trial, the demeanor and credibility of the witnesses
appearing at trial the exhibits and depositions, the Court
makes the following:
Claimant was seventy years old at the time of trial.
Until his last day of employment on December 15, 1981, the
claimant worked in the truck parts business for approximately
thirty years. From 1977 until December 15, 1981, he was parts
manager for Yellowstone Ford Truck Sales in Billings,
Montana. (Tr. at 11.)
August 22, 1980, the claimant suffered a heart attack and was
off work for several months thereafter. (Tr. at 38; Ex. 4 at
51.) On October 13, 1980, he underwent heart catheterization.
(Ex. 12 at 52.) On October 16, 1980, he underwent open heart
surgery involving a resection of a left ventricular aneurysm.
(Ex. 7 at 157 and see generally Ex. 7 at 100 - 159; Tr. at
39.) In April of 1981, he had a second heart catheterization.
(Tr. at 39; Ex. 7 at 72.) Claimant was unsure when he
returned to work but agreed he probably went back to work
full-time sometime during the Spring of 1981. (Tr. at 40.)
he returned to work claimant assigned heavier tasks to other
employees. (Tr. at 42, 56.)
July 15, 1981, claimant suffered a left inguinal hernia when
he lifted a one-hundred and fifty (150) pound truck spring.
(Tr. at 40) The injury occurred in the course and scope of
claimant's employment with Yellowstone Ford Truck Sales.
(Ex. 2 at 24.)
the time of the injury Yellowstone Ford was insured by CIGNA.
CIGNA accepted liability for claimant's injury and paid
medical benefits and temporary total disability benefits.
September 4, 1981, claimant had hernia repair surgery. (Ex. 3
claimant returned to work in October 1981. At that time
claimant's doctor considered his hernia one hundred (100
%) percent healed. (Kobold Dep. at 25.)
Claimant does not recall his hernia causing any particular
problems or pain upon his return to work in October 1981.
Claimant's normal job duties included heavy lifting of
parts and engines and running up and downstairs. Following
his heart attack, claimant had difficulty performing his job.
December 15, 1981, claimant was laid off work because of his
inability to perform his job. (Tr. at 43; Wilson Dep. Ex. 3.)
Robert Wilson, the president and general manager of
Yellowstone Ford Truck Sales, wrote a letter stating in
pertinent part: "Due to your present physical condition,
we feel that you are unable to carry out your assigned
duties; therefore, Yellowstone Ford Truck Sales, Inc. is
putting you on disability for 90 days, during which time you
will be eligible for disability income from Transamerica
Occidental Insurance Co." (Wilson Dep., Ex. No. 3)
December 18, 1981 note of one of the physicians treating
claimant's heart condition noted:
SYMPTOMS: Shortness of breath, chest central right side more
lately than before.
ASSESSMENT: He is more tired and short of breath than he was
before and has lost his job because he is ...