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Rausch v. State Compensation Insurance Fund

Court of Workers Compensation of Montana

April 20, 2001

ALEXIS RAUSCH, as the Conservator for KEVIN RAUSCH Petitioner
v.
STATE COMPENSATION INSURANCE FUND Respondent/Insurer for LARSON LOGGING, INCORPORATED Employer. CHARLES FISCH, individually and on behalf of others similarly situated Petitioner
v.
STATE COMPENSATION INSURANCE FUND Respondent/Insurer for DRY CREEK EXCAVATION Employer. THOMAS FROST, individually and on behalf of others similarly situated Petitioner
v.
STATE COMPENSATION INSURANCE FUND Respondent/Insurer for CLICK'S CONSTRUCTION Employer.

          Submitted: January 16, 2001

         REVERSED & REMANDED 9/05/02

          ORDER AND JUDGMENT REGARDING CONSTITUTIONAL CHALLENGE

          MIKE MCCARTER JUDGE

         Summary of Case:

         Three claimants who are permanently totally disabled attack the constitutionality of statutes which provide for an impairment award to permanently partially disabled workers but not to permanently totally disabled ones.

         Held:

         The lack of provision for impairment awards for permanently totally disabled workers does not violate equal protection or due process clauses. Permanently totally disabled workers are a separate, distinct class from permanently partially disabled workers and there is no discrimination within that class. The benefits available to permanently totally disabled workers are greater than those available permanently partially disabled workers, and the difference in benefits is rationally related to the differences in disabilities.

         Topics:

Constitutional Law: Constitutional Challenges: Burden. One attacking the constitutionality of a statute must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the law is unconstitutional.
Constitutional Law: Equal Protection. Permanently totally disabled workers are a separate, distinct class from permanently partially disabled workers. Within the class of permanently totally disabled workers there is no discrimination as to payment of an impairment award - such award is simply unavailable to all persons who are within that classification.
Constitutional Law: Equal Protection. Distinctions between benefits payable to permanently totally disabled workers and permanently partially disabled workers are rationally related to legitimate differences in the nature of their disabilities.
Constitutional Law: Equal Protection. While some permanently totally disabled workers have been or may become entitled to an impairment award, that entitlement is the result of their being permanently partially disabled at the time; thus, there is no discrimination among permanently totally disabled workers with respect to impairment awards. Constitutional Law: Equal Protection. Failure to provide impairment awards to permanently totally disabled workers does not violate equal protection rights. Constitutional Law: Due Process: Substantive Due Process. Distinctions between benefits payable to permanently totally disabled workers and permanently partially disabled workers are rationally related to legitimate differences in the nature of their disabilities.
Constitutional Law: Due Process: Substantive Due Process. Failure to provide impairment awards to permanently totally disabled workers does not violate substantive due process rights.
Benefits: Impairment Awards. While some permanently totally disabled workers have been or may become entitled to an impairment award, that entitlement is the result of their being permanently partially disabled at the time, thus there is no discrimination among permanently ...

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