Submitted on Briefs: January 18, 2001
FROM: Montana Workers' Compensation Court The Honorable
Mike McCarter, Judge presiding.
Appellant: Norman H. Grosfield, Attorney at Law, Helena,
Respondent: Kevin Braun, Uninsured Employers Fund, ERD,
Employer: Dean K. Knapton, Attorney at Law, Kalispell,
Arthur Schimmel appeals from the Findings of Fact,
Conclusions of Law and Judgment issued by the Workers'
Compensation Court dismissing his petition for workers'
compensation benefits. The following issue is dispositive of
Schimmel's appeal: whether the Workers' Compensation
Court erred when it determined that Schimmel's employer,
Jasper Express, Inc., was not required to provide Schimmel
with workers' compensation coverage. We reverse and
remand for proceedings consistent with this opinion.
Arthur Schimmel was injured on November 18, 1998, while
loading posts onto a trailer in Missoula County, Montana. At
the time of the accident, Schimmel was employed by Jasper
Express as a long-haul truck driver and resided in Trout
Creek, Montana. Jasper Express operates a long-haul trucking
business and is incorporated and maintains its place of
business in the State of Washington.
Jasper Express did not have Schimmel covered under a Montana
workers' compensation insurance plan. Schimmel filed a
claim for benefits with the Uninsured Employers' Fund
("Fund") which denied his claim. Schimmel then
filed a petition for benefits against Jasper Express and the
Fund in the Workers' Compensation Court seeking a
determination that Jasper Express should have provided him
with workers' compensation insurance coverage. Jasper
Express moved to dismiss, arguing, among other things, that
Schimmel was not an employee pursuant to the Act because his
employment duties were neither primarily carried out in
Montana nor controlled within Montana. The Workers'
Compensation Court denied Jasper Express's motion to
dismiss. The court observed that the evidence did not
"establish whether claimant spent more time in any state
other than Montana, only that he drove less that 50% of his
total miles in Montana."
Trial was held on April 10, 2000. On June 28, 2000, the
Workers' Compensation Court issued its Findings of Fact,
Conclusions of Law and Judgment. The court concluded that
Jasper Express was not required to maintain workers'
compensation insurance coverage for Schimmel because Schimmel
was not an "employee" as defined by the Act.
Correspondingly, the court also held that the Uninsured
Employers Fund was not liable for Schimmel's claim.
We review the Workers' Compensation Court's findings
of fact to determine whether they are supported by
substantial credible evidence. Matthews v. State
Compensation Ins. Fund, 1999 MT 225, ¶ 5, 296 Mont.
76, ¶ 5, 985 P.2d 741, ¶ 5. We review the
Workers' Compensation ...