Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Smith v. State Compensation Insurance Fund

Court of Workers Compensation of Montana

February 17, 2000

KEVIN SMITH Petitioner
v.
STATE COMPENSATION INSURANCE FUND Respondent/Insurer for STATE OF MONTANA/DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Employer.

          Submitted: February 10, 2000

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER DENYING BENEFITS UNDER SECTION 39-71-610, MCA

          Mike McCarter, Judge.

         Summary: After DOL denied claim for interim benefits under section 39-71-610, MCA, (1997), claimant "appealed" to WCC. The parties agreed the 1999 revisions to section 39-71-610, MCA, gave the WCC jurisdiction over the case.

         Held: 1999 revisions to section 39-71-610, MCA, contemplate de novo hearing at WCC. Given emergency nature of 49-day benefits issues, speedy resolution is necessary, usually accomplished through presentation of information to the court through documents and telephone conference with counsel, the procedure followed in this case. Here, request for 49-day benefits denied where the insurer never accepted liability and the insurer has what appears to be a good argument the claim is time-barred.

         Topics:

Constitutions, Statutes, Regulations and Rules: Montana Code: 39-71-610, MCA (1999). 1999 revisions to section 39-71-610, MCA, contemplate de novo hearing at WCC. Given emergency nature of 49-day benefits issues, speedy resolution is necessary, usually accomplished through presentation of information to the court through documents and telephone conference with counsel, the procedure followed in this case. Resolution of 49-day benefits cases will be guided by facts and circumstances of each case. In an accepted liability case where benefits have been paid for a lengthy period of time, where the claimant will suffer severe financial hardship from any interruption of benefits, and where the claimant has, at least at first glance, a strong prima facie case for reinstatement of benefits, an order for 49-day benefits will likely issue. On the other hand, in a case of contested liability where there is an absolute defense of likely merit, where the case for reinstatement of benefits is facially weak, or where little financial hardship will result, the facts may go against claimant. Here, request for 49-day benefits denied where the insurer never accepted liability and the insurer has what appears to be a good argument the claim is time-barred.
Benefits: Interim (39-71-610) Benefits. Resolution of 49-day benefits cases will be guided by facts and circumstances of each case. In an accepted liability case where benefits have been paid for a lengthy period of time, where the claimant will suffer severe financial hardship from any interruption of benefits, and where the claimant has, at least at first glance, a strong prima facie case for reinstatement of benefits, an order for 49-day benefits will likely issue. On the other hand, in a case of contested liability where there is an absolute defense of likely merit, where the case for reinstatement of benefits is facially weak, or where little financial hardship will result, the facts may go against claimant. Here, request for 49-day benefits denied where the insurer never accepted liability and the insurer has what appears to be a good argument the claim is time-barred.

         ¶1 The claimant herein seeks interim benefits under section 39-71-610, MCA (1997), while he pursues his workers' compensation claim. His request for 610 benefits was initially made to the Department of Labor and Industry (Department), which denied the request. He appealed that decision to this Court on February 7, 2000. A telephone conference call was held February 9, 2000, to discuss the appeal. Mr. William Dean Blackaby represented claimant and Mr. David A. Hawkins represented the insurer, State Compensation Insurance Fund, in the conference. The claims adjuster, Gina Keltz, also participated.

         ¶2 The parties agreed to proceed informally, by way of the telephone conference, on the merits of the request. A wide ranging, forty-five minute discussion was then held with counsel and Ms. Keltz. At the end of the conference, the Court requested counsel to forward an affidavit which had been prepared by claimant and a history of workers' compensation claims filed by claimant. The parties agreed to do so and the Court received the materials the next day.

         ¶3 Based on the representations of counsel and the documentation furnished the Court, I glean the following facts:

         ¶4 Claimant suffered a work-related back injury in approximately 1989.

         ¶5 On May 1, 1998, claimant was involved in another work-related accident, the exact nature of which is unclear to the Court. However, the incident was sufficiently significant to cause his employer to call a safety meeting to discuss the incident.

         ¶6 According to claimant:

At the time of the incident, I experienced temporary symptoms such as numbness, but because I had injured my back in the past, I felt that these ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.