Appeals (To Workers' Compensation Court): Generally

MONTANA SUPREME COURT CASES
Hand v. UEF [11/30/04] 2004 MT 336 (No. 03-346) Applying section 39-72-612, MCA (1997), Supreme Court reverses WCC determination that UEF could raise affirmative defense not raised prior to DOL Order of Determination.
 
MONTANA WORKERS' COMPENSATION COURT CASES

Johnson v. Transportation Ins. Co. [12/8/98] 1998 MTWCC 88 Where claimant had agreed to comply with Department of Labor order that she undergo an Independent Medical Examination, her appeal, which challenged that order, was dismissed on respondent/insurer's motion. Although claimant still wanted the WCC to resolve the appeal, her agreement to the IME was not in fact conditioned on pursuit of the appeal and courts, in any event, do not resolve issues mooted by a party's voluntary compliance with a judgment.

Holcomb v. MMIA and Subsequent Injury Fund [12/2/97] 1997 MTWCC 66A A 46-year old former truck driver/laborer with the City of Missoula Street Department claimed wage supplement benefits under section 39-71-703, MCA (1987). Because the Subsequent Injury Fund was potentially liable, the matter was heard before a hearing officer of the Department of Labor pursuant to section 39-71-910, MCA (repealed in 1997), then appealed to the WCC. Under section 2-4-704(2), MCA, this Court may not substitute its judgment for that of the agency as to the weight of the evidence on questions of fact. The Court looks to whether the administrative findings, inferences, conclusions, or decisions are "clearly erroneous in view of the reliable, probative, and substantial evidence on the whole record." The hearing officer's finding that claimant is presently qualified to earn the same wage as his time-of-injury wage, and is thus not entitled to wage-loss benefits, is supported by the record.
Rich v. State Compensation Ins. Fund [12/20/95] 1995 MTWCC 108 Section 39-71-1011, MCA (1987), et seq., requires rehabilitation services for disabled workers, including a rehabilitation panel designed by the DOL, and DOL hearing procedures, with the right of appeal of the DOL determination to the WCC. Where the rehabilitation procedures were invoked, and are still pending, claimant may not circumvent those procedures by filing a permanent total disability petition in the WCC.
Elam v. State Compensation Ins. Fund [08/25/95] 1995 MTWCC 65 On appeal to the WCC from DOL’s determination of injured worker’s first appropriate return to work option, claimant argued that hearing officer erroneously failed to make findings on each specific task of the identified job. Where the hearing officer’s determination that claimant was capable of performing the job duties of parking lot attendant encompassed a determination that he can perform the individual tasks required by the position, explicit findings on each individual task are not required.
Elam v. State Compensation Ins. Fund [08/25/95] 1995 MTWCC 65 Substantial evidence supports DOL hearing officer’s determination that option (2)(d) of section 39-71-1012, MCA (1987), on the job training, is the first appropriate rehabilitation option for claimant. On appeal to the WCC, claimant emphasizes his testimony and that of the property manager where claimant tried to return to work about his pain and incapacity to perform the job requirements of airport parking lot attendant. But the record also contains testimony by a physical medicine specialist that claimant could perform the work despite his reported difficulties, as well as the hearing officer’s credibility determination that claimant’s perception of his disability was “to a great extent self-limiting and rather incredible.” Other testimony and documentation also demonstrates claimant’s hostility to physical evaluation and refusal to make reasonable effort to perform physical activities.

Wingfield v. State Compensation Ins. Fund [05/19/95] 1995 MTWCC 37 While claimant’s pro se status at the Department hearing is not sufficient to permit his introduction of new evidence following the hearing, vocational testimony presented at the hearing constituted new information and unfair surprise in light of prior information available to claimant, justifying presentation of new evidence.

Wingfield v. State Compensation Ins. Fund [05/19/95] 1995 MTWCC 37 Although Workers’ Compensation Court rule 24.5.350(4) contemplates acceptance of new evidence in the Workers’ Compensation Court on appeal from a decision of the Department of Labor and Industry, where claimant has shown entitlement to present new evidence, controversy over appropriate rehabilitation option for claimant is more appropriately remanded to the Department hearing officer, a procedure contemplated by section 2-4-703, MCA.