Benefits: Permanent Total Disability Benefits: Pain as Disabling

MONTANA SUPREME COURT DECISIONS
Larson v. Cigna Ins. Co., 276 Mont. 283, 915 P.2d 108 (1996) (Larson II) A substantial degree of continuing pain resulting from an injury must be considered when determining whether claimant is permanently totally disabled.
 
MONTANA WORKERS' COMPENSATION COURT DECISIONS
Haupt v. State Fund [3/9/04] 2004 MTWCC 25 Where the claimant has a long-time consistent work history, she returned to work and worked uneventfully after a two-level cervical fusion, then fell at work and hit the back of her head on concrete but returned to work for a time despite chronic headaches, neck and shoulder pain, the Court finds the chronicity and severity of her pain, along with the fact that use of her arms in ordinary activities exacerbates her pain, preclude her from performing regular employment.

Boster v. Liberty Mutual Fire Ins. [12/19/02] 2002 MTWCC 64 Claimant who has not worked since 1994 back injury not entitled to total disability benefits where Court was absolutely persuaded, based on entire record, including video surveillance tapes, and observation of claimant during trial, that claimant was exaggerating his pain, was unmotivated, and was simply comfortable with his non-working lifestyle.

Kloepfer v. Lumbermen’s Mutual Casualty Co. [9/18/95] 1995 MTWCC 70 While pain must be considered in determining the ability of an injured worker to return to work, WCC was persuaded this claimantís ability to return to work was purely a function of her motivation. Although surgeon opined she could work part-time only, his opinion was based on claimantís pain reports, not objective physical limitations. More persuasive opinions came from IME conducted by occupational health and chronic pain experts who found no neurological or physical deficits, pain amplified by psychological factors, and lack of motivation to work. The Supreme Court affirmed in Kloepfer v. Lumbermenís Mutual Casualty Co., 276 Mont. 495, 916 P.2d 1310 (1996), finding substantial evidence to support the WCCís finding.
Frisbie v. Champion International Corporation [02/10/95] 1995 MTWCC 13 Where claimant was not a credible witness, repeatedly underestimating his drinking problem, showing poor memory, and inconsistent testimony, the Court did not believe that his back pain disabled him from all employment, but rather found him lacking in motivation.