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Briese v. Ace American Insurance Co.

Court of Workers Compensation of Montana

August 16, 2005

MELVIN BRIESE Petitioner
v.
ACE AMERICAN INSURANCE COMPANY Respondent/Insurer.

          Submitted: May 2, 2005

          FINDINGS OF FACT, CONCLUSIONS OF LAW AND JUDGMENT

          MIKE MCCARTER, JUDGE

         Summary: Claimant seeks workers' compensation benefits for a torn meniscus in his knee, alleging he tore the meniscus at work. Based on credibility questions arising as a result of information furnished by the employer, the insurer denied liability.

         Held: The Court finds the claimant credible and finds that he was injured as alleged.

         ¶1 The trial in this matter was held in Helena, Montana, on May 2, 2004. Petitioner was present and represented by Mr. Chris J. Ragar. Respondent was represented by Mr. Thomas J. Harrington.

         ¶2 Exhibits: Exhibits 1 through 5, 7 through 22kk and 37 through 39 were admitted without objection. Exhibits 23 through 27, 29, and 31 through 35 were admitted over objections. Exhibits 67, 28 and 30 were withdrawn. Exhibit 36 was refused.

         ¶3 Witnesses and Depositions: Petitioner, Ross Wetzler, Jo Heal, Debra Briese, Shane Briese, Sandra Haag, Kyle Maloney, and Sandra Waldo testified at trial. In addition the parties submitted the depositions of petitioner, Ross Wetzler, Debra Briese, Shane Briese, Kyle Maloney, Sandra Waldo, and Dr. John D. Campbell.

         ¶4 Issues Presented: As set forth in the Final Pre-trial Order, the issues are as follows:

¶4a Whether Petitioner's August 30, 2004 alleged injury is compensable under Montana's Workers' Compensation Act.
¶4b Whether Petitioner is entitled to an award of costs and attorneys fees.
¶4c Whether Petitioner is entitled to a 20% increase in benefits as a penalty for alleged unreasonable delay and denial of benefits.

(Final Pre-Trial Order at 2.)

         ¶5 Having considered the Final Pre-trial Order, the testimony presented at trial, the demeanor and credibility of the witnesses, the depositions and exhibits, and the arguments of the parties, the Court makes the following:

         FINDINGS ...


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