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Flynn v. Uninsured Employers' Fund

Court of Workers Compensation of Montana

September 24, 2004

WILLIAM H. FLYNN Petitioner
v.
UNINSURED EMPLOYERS' FUND Respondent and DEAN CASTERLINE Employer.

          Submitted: July 20, 2004

          DECISION AND JUDGMENT DISMISSING PETITION

          Mike McCarter Judge

         Summary:

         The claimant sought benefits from the Uninsured Employers' Fund (UEF) because his employer was uninsured at the time of his alleged injury. The UEF denied liability and notified him of its denial. The claimant then requested mediation but did so after more than ninety days following the UEF's determination. Thereafter, he petitioned this Court for benefits.

         Held:

         A claim for benefits from the UEF is barred unless the claimant requests mediation within ninety days of the UEF's determination denying benefits. The ninety-day period begins running on the date of the denial, not on the date the claimant receives the denial. The ninety-day period is not extended by the fact that the denial was mailed.

         Topics:

Constitutions, Statutes, Rules, and Regulations: Montana Code Annotated: Section 39-71-520, MCA (1993-2003). Under the express terms of section 39-71-520, MCA (1993-2003), a claim for benefits from the UEF is barred unless the claimant requests mediation within ninety days of the UEF's determination denying benefits. The ninety-day period begins running on the date of the denial, not on the date the claimant receives the denial. The ninety-day period is not extended by the fact that the denial was mailed.

         ¶1 Before the Court are two motions, one by the Uninsured Employers' Fund (UEF) and the other by the employer, Dean Casterline (Casterline). Both motions request dismissal of the present petition for lack of jurisdiction. The UEF and Casterline argue that the petitioner, William H. Flynn (claimant), failed to timely request mediation of the UEF's denial of his claim and that this Court lacks jurisdiction to consider his petition in light of that failure. The Court agrees.

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         ¶2 The claimant alleges that he suffered an industrial injury on July 25, 2002, while working for Casterline. (Petition for Hearing, ¶ 1.) At the time of the claimant's alleged injury, Casterline was uninsured. The claimant therefore filed a claim with the UEF.

         ¶3 The UEF denied the claim on November 21, 2002. In a letter of the same date written by Bernadette Rice, its claims adjuster, the UEF notified the claimant of its denial and of his right to request mediation regarding the denial. It further notified him that any request for mediation had to be filed within ninety days of the denial. In relevant part the letter read:

         Dear Mr. Flynn:

I have received your First Report of Injury (FROI) for problems you indicate you are having as a result of your employment with E. Dean Casterline. Based on the documentation I have received, I am denying liability for your claim because there is insufficient evidence to indicate you ...

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