Submitted on Briefs: May 2, 2018
FROM Montana Workers' Compensation Court, WCC No.
2015-3519 Honorable David M. Sandler, Presiding Judge
Appellant: Thomas E. Martello, Special Assistant Attorney
General, Helena, Montana
Appellee: Michael Heringer, Davina Attar, Brown Law Firm,
JEREMIAH SHEA JUSTICE
Montana State Fund (State Fund) appeals from the Workers'
Compensation Court's (WCC) Order Denying Montana State
Fund's Motion for Summary Judgment and Granting Liberty
Northwest Ins. Corp.'s Motion for Summary Judgment. We
We restate the issue on appeal as follows:
Whether the Workers' Compensation Court erred when
it held that § 39-71-407(14), MCA, did not apply for
purposes of determining liability for the exacerbation of
Wiard's occupational disease.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Kim Wiard (Wiard), began working at Tricon Timber, LLC
(Tricon), in 2002. In 2010 or 2011, Wiard was working in the
planer department when she was diagnosed with bilateral
carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). At that time, Liberty Northwest
Ins. Corp. (Liberty) provided Tricon with workers'
compensation insurance coverage. Liberty accepted liability
for Wiard's CTS as an occupational disease (OD) in August
Wiard transferred to a different job position at Tricon and
her CTS symptoms largely dissipated. She used
over-the-counter pain medication, ceased wearing wrist
braces, and did not seek additional treatment for her CTS.
In 2012 or early 2013, Wiard again changed jobs at Tricon,
moving into a grader position, which she found more mentally
and physically demanding than her previous positions.
On November 1, 2013, Liberty ceased providing workers'
compensation insurance coverage for Tricon. State Fund then
became Tricon's workers' compensation insurance
provider and remained Tricon's insurer for the remainder
of the time relevant to this case.
After Wiard had worked in the grader position for some time,
she began working longer and more frequent shifts. She was
having pain in her left hand, but was unable to take time off
Wiard sought medical treatment for bilateral wrist pain on
February 17, 2014. She was taken off work and scheduled for
follow-up care. However, her condition worsened and she went
to an emergency room later that night, complaining of severe
right-wrist pain radiating into her shoulder. She was
diagnosed with an acute exacerbation of CTS, given
medications, and referred to an orthopedic surgeon.
On February 19, 2014, Wiard went to another emergency room,
complaining of pain in her left hand. Michael Righetti, MD,
diagnosed Wiard with an acute exacerbation of chronic left
CTS. Due to the severity of her symptoms, Dr. Righetti
performed an emergency carpal tunnel release on her left