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Kemp v. Montana Contractor Compensation Fund

Court of Workers Compensation of Montana

June 4, 1998

ROBERT KEMP Petitioner
v.
MONTANA CONTRACTOR COMPENSATION FUND Respondent/Insurer for SLETTEN CONSTRUCTION Employer.,

          Submitted: April 9, 1998

          ORDER GRANTING PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON CONSTITUTIONAL ISSUE

          MIKE MCCARTER, JUDGE

         Summary: Respondent moved for summary judgment rejecting claimant's challenge to the constitutionality of section 39-71-1006, MCA (1995), which governs rehabilitation benefits. Claimant argued that the statute violates due process by placing the rehabilitation decision in the hands of the rehabilitation provider, denying him due process through judicial review and unconstitutionally delegating legislative authority.

         Held: Claimant's constitutional argument is rejected and summary judgment is granted to the insurer. On its face, the statute does not prohibit the parties from petitioning the WCC when a dispute arises over a rehabilitation decision. Even if the section did prohibit review, the remedy would be to strike down the denial of judicial review, not to invalidate the statute in its entirely. As shown by prior decisions of the WCC, this Court has entertained and decided rehabilitation questions.

         Topics:

Constitutions, Statutes, Regulations and Rules: Montana Code Annotated: section 39-71-1006, MCA (1995). Claimant argued section 39-71-1006, MCA (1995) was unconstitutional in that it denied him due process through judicial review of a rehabilitation decision and represented an unconstitutional delegation of authority to a private party. WCC rejected the constitutional challenge. On its face, the statute does not prohibit the parties from petitioning the WCC when a dispute arises over a rehabilitation decision. Even if the section did prohibit review, the remedy would be to strike down the denial of judicial review, not to invalidate the statute in its entirely. As shown by prior decisions of the WCC, this Court has entertained and decided rehabilitation questions.
Benefits: Rehabilitation Benefits: Generally. Claimant argued section 39-71-1006, MCA (1995) was unconstitutional in that it denied him due process through judicial review of a rehabilitation decision and represented an unconstitutional delegation of authority to a private party. WCC rejected the constitutional challenge. On its face, the statute does not prohibit the parties from petitioning the WCC when a dispute arises over a rehabilitation decision. Even if the section did prohibit review, the remedy would be to strike down the denial of judicial review, not to invalidate the statute in its entirely. As shown by prior decisions of the WCC, this Court has entertained and decided rehabilitation questions.
Constitutional Law: Due Process. Claimant argued section 39-71-1006, MCA (1995) was unconstitutional in that it denied him due process through judicial review of a rehabilitation decision and represented an unconstitutional delegation of authority to a private party. WCC rejected the constitutional challenge. On its face, the statute does not prohibit the parties from petitioning the WCC when a dispute arises over a rehabilitation decision. Even if the section did prohibit review, the remedy would be to strike down the denial of judicial review, not to invalidate the statute in its entirely. As shown by prior decisions of the WCC, this Court has entertained and decided rehabilitation questions.
Constitutional Law: Separation of Powers: Delegation of Powers. Claimant argued section 39-71-1006, MCA (1995) was unconstitutional in that it denied him due process through judicial review of a rehabilitation decision and represented an unconstitutional delegation of authority to a private party. WCC rejected the constitutional challenge. On its face, the statute does not prohibit the parties from petitioning the WCC when a dispute arises over a rehabilitation decision. Even if the section did prohibit review, the remedy would be to strike down the denial of judicial review, not to invalidate the statute in its entirely. As shown by prior decisions of the WCC, this Court has entertained and decided rehabilitation questions.

         ¶1 In his petition the claimant asserts that subsections(1) (a), (b), (c) and (5) of section 39-71-1006, MCA (1995), are unconstitutional. Specifically, he argues:

That Section 39-71-1006(1)(a), (b), and (c), and Section 39-71-1006(5) (M.C.A. 1995), be declared unconstitutional because it denies the Claimant access to the Court pursuant to Article II, Section 16, Mont. Const., and it strips the rehabilitation decision from the Workers' Compensation Court and places it into the hands of a rehabilitation provider. This violates the Claimant's due process rights, and is an unconstitutionally delegated legislative authority to a private party as to what circumstances will allow 104 weeks of retraining.

(Petition for Hearing at 3.)

         ¶2 Respondent seeks a partial summary judgment rejecting the constitutional challenge. The matter has been fully briefed. It does not involve any ...


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