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Gallup v. State Compensation Insurance Fund

Court of Workers Compensation of Montana

May 21, 1996

DEBBIE I. GALLUP Petitioner
v.
STATE COMPENSATION INSURANCE FUND Respondent/Insurer for AMEX TAX AND DUTY FREE SHOPS Employer.

          Submitted: May 15, 1996

          ORDER DISMISSING PETITION

          Mike McCarter, Judge.

         Summary: On a prior petition, this Court found claimant's recurrences of hidradenitis suppurative were related to her industrial injury, but rejected her claim that she was temporarily totally disabled after April 7, 1993. In this petition, she renews her request for temporary total disability benefits, contending she now has additional information to support her claim. Respondent argues the request is barred by the doctrine of res judicata for the period before the prior trial. With regard to the subsequent period, the insurer argues the claim has not been mediated and that the Court thus lacks jurisdiction.

         Held: The petition is dismissed. The doctrine of res judicata bars claimant from relitigating her claim for temporary total disability benefits for the period before her prior trial. That doctrine does not bar a claim for TTD benefits for the period following trial, but to recover, claimant must prove that her condition changed. Because mediation has not taken place with regard to whether claimant's condition has changed, or regarding the travel expenses she also now claims, the Court does not have jurisdiction over those issues.

         Topics:

Benefits: Temporary Total Benefits. Where claimant's request for temporary total disability benefits was denied in a prior case, the doctrine of res judicata bars her present attempt to obtain temporary total disability benefits for the period prior to the last trial. Any claim for TTD benefits for the period after the previous trial must turn on whether claimant's condition changed.
Defenses: Res Judicata. Where claimant's request for temporary total disability benefits was denied in a prior case, the doctrine of res judicata bars her present attempt to obtain temporary total disability benefits for the period prior to the last trial. Any claim for TTD benefits for the period after the previous trial must turn on whether claimant's condition changed.
Mediation. Where claimant failed to prove her entitlement to TTD benefits in a prior trial, her present petition for TTD benefits must turn upon whether her condition has changed in the period following trial. Where the issue of change in her condition was not mediated, the Court has no jurisdiction over the present petition.

         This is the second petition filed by the claimant, Debbie I. Gallup. The first petition, WCC No. 9503-7257, went to trial on October 13, 1995, and was decided February 9, 1996. In its decision this Court determined that recurrences of claimant's hidradenitis suppurative are related to her initial industrial injury and thus compensable. However, the Court refused claimant's request for additional temporary total disability benefits, finding that she had failed to carry her burden of proving she was temporarily totally disabled after April 7, 1993. Neither party appealed the decision.

         In her second petition, filed April 19, 1996, the claimant renews her request for temporary total disability benefits, alleging that she now has additional information to support her claim. She also seeks payment of travel expenses incurred for medical treatment.

         The respondent, State Compensation Insurance Fund, moves to dismiss the petition, asserting that the claim for temporary total disability benefits, at least for the period prior to the Court's February 9, 1996 decision, is barred by the doctrine of res judicata. As to any entitlement after February 9, 1996, and to travel expenses, the State Fund asserts that the Court lacks jurisdiction over these issues since they have not been mediated.

         I. Res Judicata

         The doctrine of res judicata prohibits relitigating matters "that the party has already had an opportunity to litigate." Greenwood v. Steve Nelson Trucking,270 Mont. 216, 220, 890 P.2d 765, 767 (1994). The doctrine "reflects the ideal that a lawsuit should provide justice for an aggrieved party as well as a final resolution of the controversy. Its underlying purpose is to prevent a party from litigating a matter more than once." State ...


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