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Moore v. State Compensation Insurance Fund

Court of Workers Compensation of Montana

March 24, 1995

JOYCE MOORE Petitioner
v.
STATE COMPENSATION INSURANCE FUND Respondent/Insurer for BRANDIN IRON MOTEL Employer.

          FINDINGS OF FACT, CONCLUSIONS OF LAW AND JUDGMENT

          Mike McCarter Judge

         Summary: Although motel housekeeper testified that she immediately reported fall down stairs to her supervisor, and had further conversation about workers' compensation a couple of weeks later, supervisor contradicted that testimony and said claimant did not report an injury and had no conversation with her about workers' compensation.

         Held: Where Court credited supervisor's testimony and disbelieved claimant, she failed to prove notice required under section 39-71-603, MCA (1991) and her petition is dismissed.

         Topics:

Constitutions, Statutes, Regulations and Rules: Montana Code Annotated: section 39-71-603, MCA (1991). Although motel housekeeper testified that she immediately reported fall down stairs to her immediate supervisor, and had further conversation about workers' compensation a couple of weeks later, supervisor contradicted that testimony. Where Court credited supervisor's testimony and disbelieved claimant, claimant has not proved the notice required under section 39-71-603, MCA (1991) and her petition is dismissed.
Limitations Periods: Notice to Employer. Although motel housekeeper testified that she immediately reported fall down stairs to her immediate supervisor, and had further conversation about workers' compensation a couple of weeks later, supervisor contradicted that testimony. Where Court credited supervisor's testimony and disbelieved claimant, claimant has not proved the notice required under section 39-71-603, MCA (1991) and her petition is dismissed.

         The trial in this matter was held on February 28, 1995, in Butte, Montana. Petitioner, Joyce Moore (claimant), was present and represented by Ms. Lynda S. Weaver. Respondent, State Compensation Insurance Fund (State Fund), was represented by Ms. Ann E. Clark. The claimant, Norvin Hanna, Dennis Small, Mary Hitzler, Jerry Schmier, Verlene Schmier and George Hitzler testified. Exhibits 1 through 17 were admitted without objection. Exhibit 18 was admitted for demonstrative purposes only. The depositions of claimant, Dr. Lee Lofgren and Mary Hitzler were submitted for the Court's consideration.

         Issues presented: The claimant contends that she suffered an industrial injury to her lower back on April 22, 1992. The issues to be decided by the Court are whether the claimant notified her employer of an accident within thirty (30) days, as required by section 39-71-603, MCA, and whether an industrial accident in fact occurred.

         Having considered the Pretrial Order, the testimony presented at trial, the demeanor and credibility of the witnesses, the depositions and exhibits, the Court makes the following:

         FINDINGS OF FACT

         1. At the time of trial claimant was fifty-one years old. She attended school until twelfth grade but did not graduate from high school.

         2. Claimant was born and raised in Georgia. Her adult work history primarily consists of working for cotton mills in Georgia for a period totalling approximately fifteen (15) years. She also worked in a television manufacturing plant between 1985 and 1987. (Moore Dep. at 7.)

         3. In 1989, while still living in Georgia, claimant divorced her first husband. Several months later she married Eddy Farmer (Farmer).

         4. Following her marriage to Farmer, claimant and Farmer lived a nomadic life, travelling from city to city, finding employment for a couple of months, and then moving on.

         5. In the late summer of 1991, claimant and Farmer arrived in West Yellowstone, Montana. In mid-August claimant found employment at the Brandin Iron Motel located in West Yellowstone. Within a few short months Farmer moved on; claimant stayed and eventually divorced Farmer. Two weeks prior to trial she married Norvin Hanna (Hanna), who is a long-time resident of West Yellowstone. She now uses her married name of Hanna. However, since this ...


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