CHRISTITA MOREAU, Individually and as Personal Representative of the Estate of Edwin Moreau, Petitioner and Appellant,
TRANSPORTATION INSURANCE COMPANY, Respondent and Appellee.
Submitted on Briefs: November 29, 2017
FROM: Montana Workers' Compensation Court, WCC No.
2013-3216R1Honorable David M. Sandler, Presiding Judge
Appellant: Allan M. McGarvey, Ethan Welder, McGarvey,
Heberling, Sullivan & Lacey, PC, Kalispell, Montana
Laurie Wallace, Bothe & Lauridsen, P.C., Columbia Falls,
Appellee: Todd A. Hammer, Hammer, Quinn and Shaw, PLLC,
Amicus Curiae W.R. Grace & Co.-Conn: Bradley J. Luck,
Jeffrey B. Smith, Garlington, Lohn & Robinson, PLLP,
McGrath Chief Justice
Christita Moreau appeals from the order of the Workers'
Compensation Court denying her motion for summary judgment
and granting summary judgment to Transportation Insurance
Company. We affirm.
We restate the issue on appeal as follows:
Did the Workers' Compensation Court properly deny
Moreau's motion for summary judgment and grant
Transportation Insurance Company's motion for summary
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Moreau's husband Edwin worked at the W.R. Grace mine near
Libby, Montana, from 1963 until 1992. In 2009, he died from
asbestos-related lung cancer. In 2010 Moreau, as personal
representative of Edwin's estate, filed a workers'
compensation claim for occupational disease benefits.
Transportation Insurance Company (Transportation) was W.R.
Grace's workers' compensation insurer, and it denied
liability for the claim.
In 2000, Edwin's employer W.R. Grace (Grace) established
and funded the Libby Medical Plan (LMP) to pay the medical
expenses of its employees who were injured by exposure to
asbestos. LMP paid approximately $95, 000 of Edwin's
medical expenses. In September 2012, as part of Grace's
bankruptcy, "certain rights and duties of the LMP"
were transferred to the Libby Medical Plan Trust. Grace
remained responsible for LMP's "ongoing payment
obligations" incurred before that time.
In 2012, Moreau petitioned the Workers' Compensation
Court (WCC) for a determination of Transportation's
liability for Edwin's medical expenses arising out of his
occupational disease. In 2013, Transportation accepted
liability for the workers' compensation claim and entered
a settlement with Moreau. Transportation agreed to reimburse
Medicaid, other providers, and Moreau personally for medical
expenses each had paid for Edwin's care. The parties
stipulated that Transportation paid all of Edwin's
medical bills or reimbursed the other persons or entities
that had paid them. Transportation did not reimburse the LMP
for the $95, 846 of Edwin's medical bills it had
previously paid because the LMP refused to accept it. Moreau
does not claim that Transportation failed to reimburse her
for any of Edwin's medical expenses that she paid.
After the LMP refused to accept reimbursement from
Transportation, Moreau demanded that Transportation pay the
$95, 000 either to Edwin's Estate, to the LMP or its
successor, or to a charity selected by the Estate.
Transportation refused and Moreau filed a second petition in
the WCC to resolve the issue. The WCC determined that all of
Edwin's medical care costs had been paid; that Edwin had
no liability to any health care provider; and that he had no
right to claim any further payment from Transportation. The
WCC determined that if the Estate were to receive the $95,
000 from Transportation it would ...