ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR SUMMARY RULING
matter before the Court is the Petitioner's Motion for
Summary Ruling. The motion requests the Court to enter
summary judgment determining that petitioner suffered an
industrial injury on March 4, 1991.
Petition for Hearing in this matter was filed on June 2,
1994. It alleges that the petitioner, Edwin Taylor, was
injured in an industrial accident on March 4, 1991, while he
was working for the Montana Department of Highways. It
further alleges that the Department's insurer, the State
Compensation Insurance Fund (State Fund), accepted liability
for the accident and thereafter paid petitioner temporary
total disability benefits. Finally, apropos to the present
matter, the petition alleges that in April 1994, the State
Fund notified petitioner that it was terminating benefits
because "the State of Montana is of the opinion that Mr.
Taylor did not suffer a disabling injury." (Petition
¶ VIII.) The State Fund admits that it initially
accepted liability but affirmatively alleges that the claim
was fraudulent. (Response at 1-3.)
Petitioner's Motion for Summary Ruling and a supporting
brief were filed on July 14, 1994. Respondent submitted a
brief opposing summary judgment. Both parties have submitted
numerous exhibits in support of their arguments and the State
Fund has submitted several affidavits. The parties filed a
number of depositions with the Court.
Court held a hearing on the petitioner's motion on
September 22, 1994. Following argument by counsel, the
parties requested and were given time to submit additional
briefs. The Court received those briefs and the motion is
ready for decision.
the rules of the Workers' Compensation Court provide that
the time for filing a motion "for summary ruling"
shall be fixed by a scheduling order, the Court has adopted
no other rules applicable to motions for summary judgment.
However, in recent decisions it has applied Rule 56,
Mont.R.Civ.P., to summary judgment motions. E.g., Steve
Wood v. Montana School Groups Ins. Authority, WCC
9401-6986, Order Granting Partial Summary Judgment
(August 12, 1994); State Compensation Ins. Fund v. Frank
Richter, WCC. No. 9308-6367, Order Denying Summary
Judgment (March 4, 1994). It will continue to do
(c), Mont.R.Civ.P., provides that summary judgment
"shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings,
depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on
file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there
is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the
moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of
law." See also First Security Bank v. Vander
Pas, 250 Mont. 148, 152, 818 P.2d 384 (1991).
When appropriate, summary judgment encourages judicial
economy by eliminating unnecessary trial, delay and expense.
Wagner v. Glasgow Livestock Sale Co., 22 Mont. 385,
389, 722 P.2d 1165, 1168 (1986). However, there
truly must be a complete absence of any genuine issue of
fact. Kober v. Stewart, 148 Mont. 117, 122, 417 P.2d
476 (1966). Summary judgment is not "a substitute for
trial if a factual controversy exists." Reaves v.
Reinbold, 189 Mont. 284, 288, 615 P.2d 896, 898
(1980). If there is any doubt as to the propriety of
summary judgment, the motion must be denied. Rogers v.
Swingly, 206 Mont. 306, 310, 670 P.2d 1386 (1983).
the moving party bears the burden of showing an absence of
material fact; the burden then shifts to the opposing party
to present evidence of a material and substantial nature
raising a genuine issue of fact. Cole v. Flathead
County, 236 Mont. 412, 416, 771 P.2d 97, 100
(1989). The evidence, both in support and in
opposition to the motion, must be sworn evidence in the form
of affidavits, depositions, and answers to interrogatories,
and is limited to "such facts as would be admissible in
evidence." Rule 56 (e), Mont.R.Civ.P. Thus, inadmissible
evidence cannot be considered.
motion was initially supported only by the documents attached
to his motion. One of the documents is the claim form which
is routinely admitted. The other documents, with one
exception, are copies of medical records which are routinely
admissible unless the opposing party specifically objects to
the records. Respondent has not objected to the attachments
to petitioner's motion, and has also attached copies of
medical records to its own response. The claim form and the
medical records will therefore be considered. The Social
Security disability determination, attached to
petitioner's motion, is inadmissible and will not be
to his Petition, petitioner suffered an industrial injury
while he was picking up traffic cones in Bozeman:
EDWIN TAYLOR was injured in the course and scope of his
employment as a truck driver for the State of Montana,
Department of Highways, Bozeman Division on March 4, 1991. On
that date he was picking up traffic cones on Main Street in
Bozeman, Montana. He had tar and gravel stuck to the bottom
of his boots, he stumbled because of the build-up on his
boots while carrying five (5) safety cones. He fell into the
fender on the air compressor hitting his head, neck and
shoulder then fell to the pavement landing on his hips and
¶ I.) Petitioner was the only person present when the
alleged accident occurred. He argues that the lack of
witnesses, the employer's failure to question the claim
when it was first presented, and the medical evidence
conclusively show that an accident in fact occurred. He
points out that he was hospitalized for several days
following the accident and has been repeatedly diagnosed as
suffering from back problems.
the fact that the alleged accident was not witnessed by
others is not conclusive evidence. Neither is the fact that
the employer did not initially question petitioner's
report of the accident. Fraud may be proved by other
evidence, including circumstantial evidence and the
admissions of the party accused of the fraud. Similarly, the
medical records are not conclusive or unrebuttable. The fact
that petitioner may suffer from a genuine medical condition
does not conclusively prove that the medical condition arose
from an industrial accident. The records in this case do not
identify conclusive, objective manifestations of an injury
occurring on March 4, 1991. While petitioner sought treatment
at the emergency room, ...