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Glaude v. State Compensation Insurance Fund

Court of Workers Compensation of Montana

September 5, 1995

JOLANDA "SUSIE" GLAUDE Petitioner
v.
STATE COMPENSATION INSURANCE FUND Respondent.

          ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO COMPEL, DEFERRING MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT, AND REQUIRING AMENDED RESPONSE

          Mike McCarter JUDGE

         Summary: Claimant refused to answer discovery requests seeking information concerning her employment and income, and other claims she may have filed. She argued her employment status was not at issue given State Fund's response to her petition.

         Held: State Fund's response was for purposes of its motion to dismiss only and does not now bind the insurer. The information sought by State Fund may lead to admissible evidence on crucial questions in this case, including whether claimant was an independent contractor and the true identity of her employer.

         Topics:

Discovery: Generally. Where issues before the Court include whether claimant was an independent contractor and the true identity of her employer in a multiple contractor situation, claimant must answer discovery seeking information about her employment and income.
Discovery: Employment Records. Where issues before the Court include whether claimant was an independent contractor and the true identity of her employer in a multiple contractor situation, claimant must answer discovery seeking information about her employment and income.
Discovery: Income. Where issues before the Court include whether claimant was an independent contractor and the true identity of her employer in a multiple contractor situation, claimant must answer discovery seeking information about her employment and income.

         The petition in this case alleges that claimant was injured while working for Don Ellis, an uninsured independent sub-contractor hired by Transit Homes of America, which in turn was an independent contractor hired by Rangitsch Brothers Mobile Homes. Ellis and Transit are allegedly uninsured, while the State Compensation Insurance Fund, which is the respondent, insured Rangitsch. Based on the uninsured status of Ellis and Transit, claimant seeks compensation from the State Fund.

         On September 21, 1994, this Court dismissed the case for failure to state a claim. Dismissal was based on my interpretation of section 39-71-405(1), MCA, as imposing liability upon the uninsured subcontractor's immediate employer only. I ruled that liability did not extend to Rangitsch because the section does not impose liability on contractors who are higher up in a linear chain of multiple contractors and subcontractors.

         Claimant appealed the dismissal. On May 8, 1995, the Montana Supreme Court reversed the dismissal based on arguments which had not been presented to this Court. It held that "under a given set of facts not yet adduced in the Workers' Compensation Court, Glaude may be able to recover under her petition" and remanded for further proceedings.

         Following remand, on July 12, 1995, the State Fund propounded five interrogatories and two requests for production. On August 8, 1995, claimant filed responses stonewalling all but one of the requests for discovery. She simultaneously filed a motion for summary judgment. On August 18, 1995, the State Fund filed a motion to compel responses to its discovery requests and for sanctions. The final brief regarding that motion was filed August 30, 1995. Meanwhile, the parties agreed to hold in abeyance any further proceedings regarding the motion for summary judgment. (August 30, 1995 letter of Charles G. Adams to Patricia J. Kessner.)

         The interrogatories and requests for production concern claimant's employment and income since 1989 and other claims arising from her 1993 injury. The actual interrogatories and requests for production are set forth in an addendum to this Order.

         Claimant objected to four of the five interrogatories (numbers 1 through 4) and to both requests for production. In each ...


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