United States District Court, D. Montana, Butte Division
ROBERT L. ALLUM, Plaintiff,
STATE of MONTANA, MONTANA STATE FUND, DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, ANNA PUDELKA, MELISSA QUALE, ESQ., THOMAS E. MARTELO, ESQ., WILBUR PINO, M.D., and DOES 1-100, Defendants.
Morris United States District Court Judge
Robert Allum filed a complaint alleging various claims
against the State of Montana, Montana State Fund, Anna
Pudelka, Melissa Quale, Thomas Martelo, and Wilbur Pino
(collectively “Defendants”). Allum suffered a
workplace injury and his claims arise out of the handling of
his claim for workers' compensation benefits.
filed an Amended Complaint (Doc. 14) on April 8, 2019.
Defendants filed a second Motion to Dismiss for lack of
jurisdiction and failure to state a claim. (Doc. 15). United
States Magistrate Judge Jeremiah Lynch entered Findings and
Recommendations on July 3, 2019. (Doc. 24). Judge Lynch
recommended granting, in part, and denying, in part,
Defendants' motions. Specifically, Judge Lynch
recommended that Allum's Sixth Claim for Relief should be
dismissed for lack of jurisdiction under Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(1). Judge Lynch also recommended that Allum's
Second, Fourth, and Fifth claims should be dismissed for
failure to state a claim. Judge Lynch recommended denying
Defendants' motion to dismiss with respect to Allum's
due process claims in his First and Second Claims for Relief.
and Defendants both filed timely objections to Judge
Lynch's Findings and Recommendations. (Doc. 25, 27). The
Court now considers these objections and reviews the Findings
and Recommendations. For the reasons articulated below, the
Court adopts in full Judge Lynch's Findings and
Court reviews de novo the portions of the Findings and
Recommendations to which either party objects. 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1)(C). The Court reviews for clear error any
portion to which no party specifically objected.
McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Commodore Bus. Mach.,
Inc., 656 F.2d 1309, 1313 (9th Cir. 1981).
objects to the statement in the Findings and Recommendations
regarding the Defendants' lack of response to Allum's
constitutional challenges. The Court agrees that the
“Constitutional Challenges” mirror claims in the
remainder of Plaintiff's Complaint. Judge Lynch
thoroughly addressed Allum's First, Second, Third,
Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Claims for relief. Allum does not
point to any specific claim that was not addressed in the
Findings and Recommendations.
Magistrate Judge dismissed Sixth Claim for Relief due to lack
of jurisdiction because the Montana Workers' Compensation
Court possesses exclusive jurisdiction over an award of
workers' compensation benefits under Mont. Code Ann.
§ 39-71-205. The State agrees with this conclusion, but
objects to the Magistrate Judge's conclusion that the
Court possesses jurisdiction over the remaining claims. The
Magistrate Judge concluded that Allum's remaining five
claims “do not expressly seek a redetermination of his
works' compensation benefits, or an award of those
benefits.” (Doc. 24 at 11).
Montana law, “the workers' compensation judge has
exclusive jurisdiction to make determinations concerning
disputes” concerning an award of workers'
compensation benefits. Mont. Code Ann. § 39-71-2905(1).
This Court lacks jurisdiction to hear any claim arising from
a dispute or determination of workers' compensation
benefits. Moreau v. Transp. Ins. Co., 342 P.3d 3, 12
Workers' Compensation Court in Larson v. Mont. State
Fund, 2011 MTWCC 8, found that “despite
Larson's claim to the contrary, he is seeking
benefits.” The claimant in Larson specifically
asked for medical benefits and the Workers' Compensation
Court found that if the claimant prevailed in his petition,
the State Fund would be liable for his medical benefits.
Id. at ¶ 6.
Court must look to Allum's Complaint and his requests for
relief. Defendants object to Judge Lynch's recommendation
to retain jurisdiction over five of Allum's claims for
relief. Allum's First Claim for Relief asserts that his
due process rights were violated through certain processes
used by the Defendants. (See, e.g. Doc. 14 at 29).
Allum's Second Claim for Relief alleges equal protection
and procedural due process violations. The Magistrate Judge
determined that Defendants were entitled to qualified
immunity as to Allum's equal protection claim. (Doc. 24
points to problems with the Workers' Compensation
Act's definition of treating physician and alleges his
functional capacity evaluation was problematic. (Doc. 14 at
37-38). Allum's Third Claim for Relief alleges that
Defendants violated his privacy by transmitting medical
records not relevant to his work injury to a medical
provider. (Doc. 14 at 44). Allum's Fourth Claim for
Relief alleges that he was exploited as a senior citizen. The
Magistrate Judge agreed with Defendants that Mont. Code Ann.
§ 45-6-333 does not provide Allum a private cause of
action, and recommended that it be dismissed. (Doc. 24 at
18). Allum's Fifth Claim for Relief alleges actual and