J.B. BAUGUS Petitioner
STATE COMPENSATION INSURANCE FUND Respondent/Insurer for EMPIRE SAND & GRAVEL Employer.
ORDER GOVERNING PRODUCTION OF DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE
Petitioner facing felony charges in district court for
alleged theft of workers' compensation benefits sought
protective order against his deposition testimony and against
requiring his wife to disclose spousal communications.
Insurer sought reconsideration of prior WCC order finding
documents suppressed in criminal proceeding also subject to
suppression in this proceeding.
Following discussion with counsel, agreement was reached for
certain testimony of petitioner in light of interrogatory
answers he had previously given.
Discovery: Depositions: Objections. After
hearing, claimant conceded he had at least partially waived
claim of fifth amendment privilege against answering
deposition questions by previously providing interrogatory
answers on certain topics.
are several matters before the Court. First, there is
petitioner's (claimant's) motion for a protective
order prohibiting respondent, State Compensation Insurance
Fund (State Fund), from questioning claimant and his wife as
to issues surrounding pending criminal charges in Yellowstone
County. Second, claimant has requested an Order precluding
the examination of his wife concerning spousal
communications. Third, the State Fund has requested the Court
to reconsider is previous Order denying its motion to compel
discovery of documents and records seized in the criminal
following facts appear from documents provided to the Court
and which are contained in the Court file. The documents are
copies of documents from the district court file in State
of Montana v. J.B. Baugus, Montana Thirteenth Judicial
District Court, Yellowstone County, Cause No. DC 94-554 and
State of Montana v. J.B. Baugus, Margaret Baugus and
James M. Rogina, Jr., Montana Thirteenth Judicial
District Court, Yellowstone County, Cause No. 95-195.
present Petition for Hearing was triggered by a criminal
prosecution which commenced on October 18, 1994. On that
date, the State of Montana presented Judge Russell Fillner
with a motion for leave to file a Criminal Information. Judge
Fillner granted the State leave to file the Information. The
State then filed an Information charging claimant with felony
theft of workers' compensation benefits. It thereafter
filed an Amended Information on January 4, 1996, alleging
that between May 1982 and October 16, 1994, the claimant
obtained "approximately $136, 963.85" in
workers' compensation benefits by misstating his physical
condition and by failing to report income he received from
construction and excavation projects. (Affidavit of Counsel
in Support of Claimant's Response to Motion for Stay or
in the Alternative to Continue, Ex. A at 1.)
same time he approved the Information, Judge Fillner also
issued a search warrant. The warrant authorized agents of the
Montana Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) to search
claimant's home and property.
agents went to claimant's home the next day, October 19,
1994, and carried out an extensive search of the home. They
were there for several hours. During that time, they invited
reporters from the Billings Gazette into the home to
photograph their efforts. Ultimately, they seized numerous
items, including financial records belonging to claimant.
claimant filed a motion to suppress all evidence seized
during the search, citing the State's violation of his
constitutional right to privacy. The violation was based on
CIB agents permitting reporters to roam through the house and
photograph items while the search was being conducted. The
claimant also attacked the search warrant as over broad.
5, 1996, Judge Robert W. Holmstrom, who had assumed
jurisdiction over the criminal case, issued an Order finding
that the search violated claimant's right to privacy and
that the it was indeed over broad. He ordered that all
evidence obtained during the search be suppressed.
State appealed the suppression order to the Montana Supreme
Court. However, the appeal was dismissed at the request of
the Montana Attorney General.
meantime, on January 9, 1996, claimant filed the present
action in this Court. His petition seeks a determination of
his entitlement to past and future workers' compensation
January 8, 1996, the day before he filed his petition with
this Court, claimant filed a motion with Judge Holmstrom
requesting that the criminal case be dismissed. He argued
that the Workers' Compensation Court has exclusive
jurisdiction to determine his legal entitlement to benefits
and that "[u]ntil these workers' compensation issues
are decided this Court [the District Court in the criminal
matter] is unable to instruct a jury as to what Mr.
Baugus' rights and entitlement under the workers'
compensation law were during the period of time for which he
is charged with theft." (Affidavit of Counsel in Support
of Claimant's Response to Motion for Stay or in the
Alternative to Continue, Ex. C at 7.)
21, 1996, Judge Holmstrom denied the motion to dismiss.
However, he stayed further criminal proceedings "until
the Workers' Compensation Court determines his
[claimant's] benefits under the Workers' Compensation
Act." (Petitioner's Response to State Fund's
Motion to Compel and Request for Declaratory Ruling Regarding
Release of Evidence, Ex. 10.) He noted that the State Fund
had conceded that claimant was entitled to compensation
"up to a certain point in time" (id., Ex.
10 at 7) and concluded that before any criminal prosecution
can proceed the Workers' Compensation Court must
determine the extent of claimant's entitlement to
[T]he Defendant's guilt or innocence cannot be determined
without making a determination of what, if any, benefits the
Defendant was actually entitled to. Section 39-71-2905 is
unequivocal in its assignment to the Workers'
Compensation Court of exclusive jurisdiction over
workers' compensation disputes.
(Id.; Ex. 10 at 9.)
that decision, discovery proceeded in this action. Respondent
propounded and claimant responded to interrogatories and
requests for production. Claimant, however, resisted
discovery of the evidence suppressed by Judge Holmstrom.
March 20, 1997, the State Fund moved to compel production of
the evidence. (Motion to Compel and Request for Declaratory
Ruling Regarding Release of Evidence.) Claimant resisted the
motion and on April 23, 1997, I denied the discovery request,
holding that Judge Holmstrom's Orders had made this
action an ...