CRISTITA MOREAU, individually and as Personal Representative of the ESTATE OF EDWIN MOREAU, Petitioner and Appellant,
TRANSPORTATION INSURANCE CO., Respondent and Appellee.
Submitted on Briefs: December 3, 2014
Montana Workers’ Compensation Court, WCC No. 2013-3216 Honorable James Jeremiah Shea, Presiding Judge
For Appellant: Laurie Wallace, Bothe & Lauridsen, P.C, Columbia Falls, Montana
Jon Heberling, McGarvey, Heberling, Sullivan & Lacey PC, Kalispell, Montana
For Appellee: Todd A. Hammer, Angela K. Jacobs, Hammer, Jacobs & Quinn, PLLC, Kalispell, Montana
MIKE MCGRATH CHIEF JUSTICE
¶1 Cristita Moreau, personal representative of the Estate of Edwin Moreau, appeals from the April 8, 2014 order of the Workers Compensation Court dismissing her petition. We reverse and remand for further proceedings.
¶2 Moreau presents the following issue for review: Whether the Workers' Compensation Court properly held that it lacked jurisdiction to consider Moreau's petition because she lacked standing.
¶3 Cristita Moreau's husband Edwin worked at the W. R. Grace mine from 1963 until 1992. He died of asbestos-related lung cancer in 2009. In 2010 Moreau, as personal representative of Edwin's estate, filed a claim for occupational disease benefits with Grace's workers' compensation insurance carrier, Transportation Insurance. Transportation denied the claim.
¶4 In 2012 Moreau filed a petition in Workers' Compensation Court seeking a determination of Transportation's liability for the costs of Edwin's medical care. In 2013 Transportation accepted liability for Edwin's medical expenses, and Moreau and Transportation entered a settlement agreement. Transportation reimbursed Medicaid, other providers, and Moreau individually for medical expenses they had paid for Edwin's care.
¶5 The Libby Medical Plan paid slightly over $95, 000 of Edwin's medical expenses. The Plan was an entity established and funded by Edwin's employer, W. R. Grace, to pay the medical care expenses of employees who were injured by asbestos exposure. Both the Plan and W. R. Grace refused to accept any reimbursement from Transportation for the medical expenses the Plan had paid on Edwin's behalf. Moreau then demanded that the amount of the reimbursement declined by the Plan and W. R. Grace should be paid either to Edwin's Estate or to a charity selected by the Estate. Transportation refused to pay the money and Moreau filed a second petition to the Workers' Compensation Court to resolve the dispute.
¶6 The Workers' Compensation Court denied the petition, concluding that it lacked jurisdiction to hear it under § 39-71-2905, MCA. The Workers' Compensation Court concluded that since Edwin received the medical care and the care was paid for by the Plan, any further recovery would result in a double payment. Moreau was not liable to providers for the prior payments that the Plan made on Edwin's behalf, and she had no right to any payment from Transportation. The Workers' ...