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Kimery v. State Compensation Insurance Fund

Court of Workers Compensation of Montana

December 11, 1995

HELEN JO KIMERY Petitioner
v.
STATE COMPENSATION INSURANCE FUND Respondent/Insurer for MISSOULA COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT Employer.

          Submitted: October 6, 1995

          SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          MIKE MCCARTER, JUDGE

         Summary: Petitioner, who received death benefits until her re-marriage, moved for summary judgment on her request that benefits be re-instated following District Court's annulment of her remarriage, which included a declaration that the marriage was void ab initio. She argued State Fund was bound by the District Court decree even though it was not a party to that proceeding and contended the Workers' Compensation Court lacked jurisdiction to make any orders inconsistent with the District Court.

         Held: A judgment has no effect or force as to non-parties except under circumstances meeting the criteria for collateral estoppel, not met as to State Fund in this case. Where the WCC has jurisdiction to determine entitlement to benefits, it has jurisdiction to determine whether the annulment of claimant's marriage revives State Fund's obligation to pay death benefits. Summary judgment denied.

         Topics:

Constitutions, Statutes, Regulations and Rules: Montana Code Annotated: section 39-71-721(5), MCA (1983). Widow whose death benefits were terminated upon her remarriage moved for summary judgment on her claim to reinstate benefits, arguing that District Court's order of annulment of her remarriage ab initio was binding on State Fund. WCC denied motion, holding that District Court's order was not binding on State Fund where it was not party to that proceeding.
Benefits: Death Benefits: Remarriage. Widow whose death benefits were terminated upon her remarriage moved for summary judgment on her claim to reinstate benefits, arguing that District Court's order of annulment of her remarriage ab initio was binding on State Fund. WCC denied motion, holding that District Court's order was not binding on State Fund where it was not party to that proceeding.
Jurisdiction: Subject Matter Jurisdiction. Where the WCC has jurisdiction to determine entitlement to benefits, it has jurisdiction to determine whether the annulment of widow's remarriage revives State Fund's obligation to pay death benefits.

         Petitioner, Helen Jo Kimery, seeks reinstatement of survivor's benefits. She now moves for summary judgment as to her entitlement.

         Standard of Review

         As in other recent cases involving motions for summary judgment, this Court will follow Rule 56, Mont.R.Civ.P. Rule 56(c) provides in pertinent part:

[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.

Mont.R.Civ.P. 56(c).

         Summary judgment is appropriate when the moving party establishes that there is no genuine issues of material fact and that she is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. McDonald v. Anderson, 261 Mont. 268, 272, 862 P.2d 402, 404 (1993). The primary policy and the general purpose underlying summary judgment is to encourage judicial economy by eliminating unnecessary trials. Id. at 273, 862 P.2d at 404.

         The facts upon which petitioner bases her motion are found in district court documents in an annulment proceeding. Copies of the documents are attached to the Petitioner's Brief in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment. In addition the Court requested and obtained a copy of the entire district court file, of which judicial notice is taken.

         Facts

         The petitioner is the widow of Allen Kimery, a Missoula County sheriff's deputy killed in the line of duty on December 6, 1984. The State Fund insured the County at that time and accepted liability for payment of survivors' benefits to petitioner and the two Kimery children.

         On July 20, 1991, petitioner married David Archer. Pursuant to section 39-71-721, MCA, the State Fund paid her a lump sum of 104 weeks of benefits and terminated further biweekly benefits.

         A year and a half later, on February 19, 1993, petitioner sought a dissolution of her marriage to Archer. (Ex. E.) Within a week of the filing of her dissolution petition, however, she filed an amended petition requesting that her marriage be annulled. (Ex. G.) The amended petition alleged that petitioner "lacked the capacity to consent [to the marriage] in that she was sufferring [sic] from mental incapacity and her consent was induced by duress . . . ." (Id. at 2.) She and Archer thereafter entered into a Stipulation and Property Settlement Agreement in which Archer

hereby admits, acknowledges, stipulates, declares, agrees, and verifies that at the time of the parties' purported marriage Petitioner lacked the capacity to consent in that she was suffering from mental incapacity and that her ostensible ...

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