RONALD D. LaFOUNTAIN Petitioner,
MONTANA STATE FUND Respondent.
the Petitioner: Ronald D. LaFountain Pro Se
the Respondent: William Dean Blackaby Special Assistant
Present: Wayne Bunch, Claims Adjuster
THE HONORABLE JAMES JEREMIAH SHEA
The conference call in the above-entitled matter was held on
Tuesday, September 30, 2008, at 10:00 a.m., at the
Workers' Compensation Court, Helena, Montana.
REMEMBERED that on Tuesday, September 30, 2008, in Helena,
Montana, before the Honorable James Jeremiah Shea,
Workers' Compensation Judge, the following proceedings
were had and testimony was taken telephonically:
COURT: Okay, thanks, everyone. We are on the record in the
matter of Mr. LaFountain versus Montana State Fund, Cause No.
2008-2100. This is the time that I have scheduled to issue an
oral bench ruling in accordance with ARM 24.5.335.
LaFountain, I'm going to issue my ruling. I want to make
sure, if you have any questions when I am done, I'm going
to give you the chance to ask those then, and I will answer
them as best I can, okay?
COURT: Okay. Three issues were present for my decision in
this case, and they are: One, is the petitioner entitled to
authorization of bi-level artificial disc replacement surgery
at the Stenum Hospital in Bremen, Germany; Two, is the
petitioner entitled to an increase in his disability rate to
$1, 610 per week for all temporary total and permanent
partial disability benefits; and Three, is petitioner
entitled to a penalty against respondent?
the issue of Mr. LaFountain's disability rate first, I
have concluded that he has not prevailed on this issue. As a
matter of law, Mr. LaFountain cannot be entitled to temporary
total disability or permanent partial disability weekly
benefits in this amount. The maximum weekly benefit available
to injured workers in Montana is set by statute. The
statutory authority is found in Section 39-71-701 (3) per TTD
benefits, and Section 39-71-703 (6) for PPD benefits.
39-71-701 (3) states that the maximum weekly TTD benefits
awarded may not exceed the state's average weekly wage at
the time of injury. Section 39-71-703(6) states that the
weekly benefit rate for PPD may not exceed one-half of the
state's average weekly wage.
time of Mr. LaFountain's September 2002 industrial
injury, the maximum weekly TTD award was $473 per week, and
the maximum PPD award was $236.50 per week. Therefore,
whether or not Mr. LaFountain was earning significantly
higher wages at the time ...