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Moreau v. Transportation Insurance Co.

Supreme Court of Montana

January 2, 2018

CHRISTITA MOREAU, Individually and as Personal Representative of the Estate of Edwin Moreau, Petitioner and Appellant,
v.
TRANSPORTATION INSURANCE COMPANY, Respondent and Appellee.

          Submitted on Briefs: November 29, 2017

         APPEAL FROM: Montana Workers' Compensation Court, WCC No. 2013-3216R1Honorable David M. Sandler, Presiding Judge

          For Appellant: Allan M. McGarvey, Ethan Welder, McGarvey, Heberling, Sullivan & Lacey, PC, Kalispell, Montana Laurie Wallace, Bothe & Lauridsen, P.C., Columbia Falls, Montana

          For Appellee: Todd A. Hammer, Hammer, Quinn and Shaw, PLLC, Kalispell, Montana

          For Amicus Curiae W.R. Grace & Co.-Conn: Bradley J. Luck, Jeffrey B. Smith, Garlington, Lohn & Robinson, PLLP, Missoula, Montana

          OPINION

          Mike McGrath Chief Justice

         ¶1 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.

         ¶2 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 judgment?

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         ¶3 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.

         ¶4 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.

         ¶5 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.

         ¶6 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 ...


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