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Murer v. State Compensation Insurance Fund

Court of Workers Compensation of Montana

March 2, 1998

JACK MURER, et al. Petitioner
v.
STATE COMPENSATION INSURANCE FUND Respondent/Insurer.

          Submitted: February 17, 1998

          ORDER CONCERNING IDENTIFICATION AND PAYMENT OF MURER BENEFITS

          MIKE MCCARTER JUDGE

         Summary: WCC exercised continuing jurisdiction over parties efforts to identify and compensate non-party claimants. Issues arose as to procedures for review of claims.

         Held: Procedures for review of settlements made in different time periods ordered by the WCC.

         Topics:

Procedure: Post-Trial Proceedings: Court Supervision. WCC exercised continuing jurisdiction over parties efforts to identify and compensate non-party claimants. WCC ordered procedures for review of settlements with State Fund made in various time periods.

         ¶1 This matter is on remand from the Supreme Court for determination of the amount of fees due claimants' attorneys. In addition, the Court is exercising continuing jurisdiction over efforts of the State Compensation Insurance Fund (State Fund) to identify and pay non-party claimants who are due Murer benefits.

         ¶2 Counsel and the Court have conducted numerous discussions concerning the procedure for identifying those claimants. All are in agreement that the State Fund will individually review all non-settled claims for industrial injuries occurring between July 1, 1987 and June 30, 1991, and calculate what, if any, benefits are due each claimant. The parties, however, are not in complete agreement concerning the potential entitlement of claimants who have previously settled their claims. This Order resolves in substantial part the parties' differences and establishes a procedure for the initial review of settled claims.

         ¶3 Cases settled prior to June 29, 1992, are deemed finally closed and the State Fund need not conduct any further review of such settlements.

         ¶4 Irrespective of the date of settlement, cases which have been settled on a disputed liability basis are deemed finally closed and the State Fund need not conduct any further review of such settlements.

         ¶5 The term "settlement documents," as used in this Order includes the petition for settlement, any supporting affidavits, any recap memos, and correspondence concerning the settlement claimant.

         ¶6 All cases settled between June 29, 1992 and March 30, 1993 shall be reviewed to determine if settlement documents affirmatively show that Murer benefits were paid, compromised or expressly released, or whether the claimant was aware of his or her potential Murer entitlement. Each settlement shall also be reviewed to determine whether the settlement compromised a genuine dispute over the amount of benefits due the claimant.

a) Those settlements in which the State Fund determines that Murer benefits were paid, compromised or expressly released, or which affirmatively demonstrate that the claimant was aware of his or her potential Murer entitlement, shall be set aside for further review by claimants' attorneys and the Court. If in fact Murer benefits were paid, compromised or expressly released, or the claimant was aware of his potential entitlement to Murer benefits, then the settlement shall be deemed finally closed and no further benefits need be paid. The Court will make the final determination if counsel for the parties do not agree on the effect of the settlement with respect to Murer benefits. An attorney fee of 15% shall be paid with respect to all Murer payments made or due under the settlements.
b) Any settlement which affirmatively shows that there was a compromise of a genuine dispute over the amount of benefits due claimant shall be set aside for further review by the parties' attorneys and the Court. The Court reserves decision as to what, if any, Murer benefits may be due in such cases and ...

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