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Miller v. State Compensation Insurance Fund

Court of Workers Compensation of Montana

September 20, 2000

KRISTOPHER MILLER Petitioner
v.
STATE COMPENSATION INSURANCE FUND SELF-EMPLOYED DOCTOR OF CHIROPRACTIC Employer.

          Submitted: September 1, 2000

          ORDER DENYING MOTION IN LIMINE

          MIKE McCARTER JUDGE.

         Summary of Case: Claimant was criminally charged with workers' compensation fraud. Following dismissal of the charges by the State, he filed a motion in limine to exclude any evidence of fraud at a trial on his petition for benefits. The motion was based on correspondence between his attorney and the Clerk of the WCC, and correspondence between the State Compensation Insurance Fund's attorney and the Clerk.

         Held: The motion is denied. (1) The motion in limine is improper. (2) There is no binding stipulation or agreement. (3) The State Fund's agreement, if any, concerned an acquittal after trial, not a dismissal.

         Topics:

Attorneys: Correspondence. Letter from insurer's counsel to Clerk of Workers' Compensation Court agreeing with statements in letter from claimant's counsel did not create binding agreement for dismissal of insurer's affirmative defense of fraud. Letter from claimant's counsel to Clerk had indicated case should settle if claimant was found not guilty of fraud in pending criminal case. When writing to the Clerk, insurer's counsel merely concurred with logic of earlier letter. Claimant, in any event, was not actually found "not guilty" when charges were dismissed.
Criminal Prosecution. Claimant's counsel wrote to Clerk of Workers' Compensation Court asserting that case should settle if claimant was found not guilty of fraud in pending criminal case. Insurance counsel's agreement in his letter to Clerk did not create binding agreement to dismiss affirmative defense of fraud. Criminal case, in any event, was dismissed and claimant was never found "not guilty" of fraud.
Defenses: Fraud. Claimant's motion in limine to exclude evidence of fraud at trial was not proper where claimant, in essence, sought to strike an affirmative defense but had not moved for partial summary judgment or to strike. The motion to exclude was also denied because no agreement to drop fraud defense arose from communications to Clerk of Court by counsel.
Evidence: Generally. Claimant's motion in limine to exclude evidence of fraud at trial was not proper where claimant, in essence, sought to strike an affirmative defense but had not moved for partial summary judgment or to strike. The motion to exclude was also denied because no agreement to drop fraud defense arose from communications to Clerk of Court by counsel.
Fraud. Claimant's motion in limine to exclude evidence of fraud at trial was not proper where claimant, in essence, sought to strike an affirmative defense but had not moved for partial summary judgment or to strike. The motion to exclude was also denied because no agreement to drop fraud defense arose from communications to Clerk of Court by counsel.
Pleading: Affirmative Defenses. Claimant's motion in limine to exclude evidence of fraud at trial was not proper where claimant, in essence, sought to strike an affirmative defense but had not moved for partial summary judgment or to strike. The motion to exclude was also denied because no agreement to drop fraud defense arose from communications to Clerk of Court by counsel.
Procedure: Motion in Limine. Claimant's motion in limine to exclude evidence of fraud at trial was not proper where claimant, in essence, sought to strike an affirmative defense but had not moved for partial summary judgment or to strike. The motion to exclude was also denied because no agreement to drop fraud defense arose from communications to Clerk of Court by counsel.
Procedure: Motion to Strike. Claimant's motion in limine to exclude evidence of fraud at trial was not proper where claimant, in essence, sought to strike an affirmative defense but had not moved for partial summary judgment or to strike.
Settlement: Generally. Letter from insurer's counsel to Clerk of Workers' Compensation Court agreeing with statements in letter from claimant's counsel did not create binding agreement for dismissal of insurer's affirmative defense of fraud. Letter from claimant's counsel to Clerk had indicated case should settle if claimant was found not guilty of fraud in pending criminal case. When writing to the Clerk, insurer's counsel merely concurred with logic of ...

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