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Johnson v. Montana Municipal Insurance Authority

Court of Workers Compensation of Montana

June 11, 1998

TERRANCE M. JOHNSON Petitioner
v.
MONTANA MUNICIPAL INSURANCE AUTHORITY and UNINSURED EMPLOYERS' FUND Respondent/Insurer for CORCON CONSTRUCTION Employer.,

          Submitted: June 3, 1998

          ORDER PERMITTING THIRD-PARTY PETITION AND VACATING TRIAL SETTING

          MIKE MCCARTER, JUDGE

         Summary: The Uninsured Employers' Fund requested that the alleged uninsured employer be formally joined as a party to this action, which involves a claim against it by a petitioner alleging injury while working for an allegedly uninsured employer. Although the employer was named on the caption to the case as the employer, it was not named as a respondent and has not appeared in the case.

         Held: In effect, the UEF's request for joinder is a request that it be permitted to file a third-party petition for indemnification. Although the Court did not at the time of this action have a rule for third-party petitions, the WCC follows where appropriate the Montana Rules of Civil Procedure. Applying the principles behind Mont.R.Civ.P. 14(a), the UEF will be permitted to join the employer as resolving issues with participation of the employer will reduce the possibility of multiple actions and potentially inconsistent adjudications.

         Topics:

Procedure: Joining Third Parties. The UEF requested that an allegedly uninsured employer be formally joined as a party to an action brought by a worker alleging injury. In effect, the UEF's request for joinder is a request that it be permitted to file a third-party petition for indemnification. Although the Court did not at the time of this action have a rule for third-party petitions, the WCC follows where appropriate the Montana Rules of Civil Procedure. Applying the principles behind Mont.R.Civ.P. 14(a), the UEF will be permitted to join the employer as resolving issues with participation of the employer will reduce the possibility of multiple actions and potentially inconsistent adjudications. (Following this decision, ARM section 24.5.307A was adopted, which specifies that in any case involving entitlement to benefits from the uninsured employers' fund, the alleged uninsured employer shall be deemed a party to the action.)
Uninsured Employers' Fund: Indemnification. The UEF requested that an allegedly uninsured employer be formally joined as a party to an action brought by a worker alleging injury. In effect, the UEF's request for joinder is a request that it be permitted to file a third-party petition for indemnification. Although the Court did not at the time of this action have a rule for third-party petitions, the WCC follows where appropriate the Montana Rules of Civil Procedure. Applying the principles behind Mont.R.Civ.P. 14(a), the UEF will be permitted to join the employer as resolving issues with participation of the employer will reduce the possibility of multiple actions and potentially inconsistent adjudications. (Following this decision, ARM section 24.5.307A was adopted, which specifies that in any case involving entitlement to benefits from the uninsured employers' fund, the alleged uninsured employer shall be deemed a party to the action.)

         ¶1 At the request of respondent Uninsured Employers' Fund (UEF), the Court held a telephonic conference on June 3, 1998, with Mr. Kevin Braun, attorney for the UEF, Mr. Richard J. Martin, attorney for the petitioner/claimant, and Mr. Oliver H. Goe, attorney for respondent Montana Municipal Insurance Authority (MMIA).

         ¶2 Mr. Braun requested that the claimant's employer be formally joined as a party. The request is granted.

         ¶3 The petitioner alleges that he suffered an industrial injury and an occupational disease while working for CorCon Construction (CorCon), which was uninsured. The City of Great Falls, which is insured by MMIA, allegedly hired CorCon for the project on which petitioner was injured. Both the UEF and MMIA have denied liability for petitioner's claims.

         ¶4 In its response to the Petition for Hearing, the UEF requests this Court to order CorCon to indemnity it should it be held liable for petitioner's claims. Mr. Braun informed the Court that the UEF has served CorCon, which has not filed an appearance in this case, with its pleadings, notices, and other documents. Mr. Braun assumed CorCon was a party. The other two attorneys have not served their documents on CorCon.

         ¶5 CorCon was named in the Petition for Hearing as the "employer;" however, it was not specifically named as a "respondent."

         ¶6 Petitioner does not seek any relief against CorCon. In any event the Court would not have jurisdiction over such request. § 39-71-516, MCA. However, this Court has jurisdiction over indemnity disputes. Cf. EBI/Orion Group v. State Compensation Ins. Fund, 240 Mont. 99, 782 P.2d. 1276 (1989).

         ¶7 UEF's request for joinder is in effect a request that it be permitted to file a third-party petition for indemnification. The Court has no rule for third-party complaints. However, lacking a rule, the Court has in the past followed the Montana Rules of Civil Procedures. Mur ...


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