Appeals (To Supreme Court): Issues Not Raised Below

Russell v. Watkins & Shepard [06/24/09] 2009 MT 217 Failure to request a Daubert hearing on the admissibility of scientific testimony generally waives the right to challenge the reliability of such evidence on appeal. While the employer argued in the Workers’ Compensation Court that the court should rely upon the employer’s medical experts and not those offered by the claimant, it never requested a Daubert hearing to challenge the reliability of the methodology, bases for opinions, or qualifications of the claimant’s expert on whom the court relied. Therefore, the Montana Supreme Court will not consider the employer’s challenge to the expert’s methodology and rationale for the first time on appeal.
Preston v. Transportation Ins. Co. [12/01/04] 2004 MT 339 (No. 02-522) The Supreme Court will not consider appellant’s argument for equitable tolling of statute of limitations for filing a claim for reopening workers’ compensation settlement where equitable tolling argument was not raised in the Workers’ Compensation Court. The Supreme Court will not consider issues not raised below because a lower court cannot be faulted for not ruling on a theory never presented to it.

Thompson v. Liberty Northwest Ins. Corp., 2004 MT 166N (non-citeable opinion). The general rule in Montana is that the Supreme Court will not address either an issue raised for the first time on appeal or a party’s challenge to a legal theory, because it is fundamentally unfair to fault the Workers’ Compensation Court for failing to rule correctly on an issue it was never given the opportunity to consider. See Bekkedahl v. McKittrick, 2002 MT 250, ¶ 31, 312 Mont. 156, ¶ 31, 58 P.2d 174, ¶ 31. [Note: this Supreme Court decision is not citeable.]