Constitutional Law: Due Process: Substantive Due Process

MONTANA SUPREME COURT DECISIONS
Satterlee v. Lumberman's Mut. Cas. Co. [11/03/09] 2009 MT 368 Whether the quid pro quo principal of a bargained-for exchange is satisfied because claimants over the age of 65 receive benefits of “more or less equal value” to their forgone rights in tort is subject to honest debate.  However, such a debate involves issues and decisions about public policy better suited to the Legislature.
Satterlee v. Lumberman's Mut. Cas. Co. [11/03/09] 2009 MT 368 Where the claimant argued that § 39-71-710, MCA, terminates PTD benefits based on age and that the holding in Reesor prohibits such discrimination, the Montana Supreme Court found that the reasoning in Reesor was inapplicable to the case at bar.  PPD and PTD benefits and their corresponding purposes are too different to equate them with one another.

Satterlee v. Lumberman's Mut. Cas. Co. [11/03/09] 2009 MT 368 Although claimants who have worked less, and therefore do not qualify for SSRI, continue to collect PTD benefits while claimants who have worked more, and are therefore eligible for SSRI, have their PTD benefits terminated, the Montana Supreme Court concluded this does not rise to the level of an absurdity so that § 39-71-710, MCA, would be unconstitutional.  The identification of at least one possible legitimate purpose is enough to affirm the Workers’ Compensation Court without resulting in an absurdity.

 
MONTANA WORKERS' COMPENSATION COURT DECISIONS
Satterlee v. Lumberman's Mutual Ins. Co. [06/04/08] 2008 MTWCC 29 Where § 39-71-710, MCA, places a reasonable limitation on PTD benefits in order to contain the cost of the system for employers while ensuring that PTD claimants are compensated commensurately with the wages they were earning when they left the workforce for what otherwise would have been their remaining “work life”, the Court finds that the statute passes constitutional muster under a substantive due process challenge. Additionally, for the same reasons § 39-71-710, MCA, does not violate Petitioner’s right to equal protection, the statute does not unconstitutionally discriminate against Petitioners based on their age.
Negethon v. Montana State Fund [12/14/06] 2006 MTWCC 40 Petitioner's constitutional challenge of § 39-71-123, MCA, on the grounds that the statute violates his right to substantive due process when he lost his full-time unemployment benefits in exchange for reduced workers' compensation benefits, failed because Petitioner did not convince the Court beyond a reasonable doubt that the statute was unconstitutional.
Fisch, Frost, and Rausch v. State Fund [4/20/01] 2001 MTWCC 15 Failure to provide impairment awards to permanently totally disabled workers does not violate substantive due process rights.
Fisch, Frost, and Rausch v. State Fund [4/20/01] 2001 MTWCC 15 Distinctions between benefits payable to permanently totally disabled workers and permanently partially disabled workers are rationally related to legitimate differences in the nature of their disabilities.
Powell v. State Compensation Insurance Fund [2/4/99] 1999 MTWCC 10 Section 39-71-1107(3), MCA (1995) does not violate federal or state guarantees of equal protection and substantive due process. To succeed in a constitutional challenge, claimant must persuade the Court beyond a reasonable doubt that the statute is not constitutional. Equal protection provisions do not prohibit different treatment of different groups or classes of people so long as all persons within a group or class are treated the same. The essence of substantive due process is similar as applied to this case; the statute must be reasonably related to a permissible legislative objective. A court considering a constitutional challenge is not limited to reasons for the legislation as set out on the face of the statutes or in legislative history, but may consider any possible purpose of the legislation. Here, while the goal of cost containment alone may not save legislation which treats similarly situated people differently, there are cogent and logical reasons for limiting payments to family members providing 24-hour domiciliary care. Family members providing such care typically reside with the injured worker, meaning they generally continue their ordinary life activities during some of the day, and typically do not provide the trained, focused, professional care given by non-family members who are working away from their own home. These differences justify the statute.
Bowers v. State Fund [9/2/98] 1998 MTWCC 64 The presumption of correctness afforded medical panel reports under section 39-72-610(1), MCA (1993) of the ODA is unconstitutional as a violation of due process of law and an unlawful delegation of executive power.
Wieglenda v. State Compensation Insurance Fund/Department of Labor and Industry, No. 97-045 (1997) (Unpublished opinion) In an unpublished, nonciteable opinion, Supreme Court affirmed WCC determination that section 39-71-704(1)(f), MCA (1993) did not deny equal protection or due process by providing that insurer was not required to furnish maintenance care, in this case chiropractic care, to injured worker.
Wieglenda v. State Compensation Insurance Fund [10/23/96] WCC No. 9606-7562 Section 39-71-704(1), MCA (1993), and other statutory and regulatory provisions, do not deny equal protection or due process by providing that an insurer is not required to furnish maintenance care. (Note: WCC was affirmed by the Supreme Court in an unpublished, nonciteable opinion, Wieglenda v. State Compensation Insurance Fund/Department of Labor and Industry, No. 97-045 (1997).)
Simpson v. Lewis and Clark County [02/16/95] 1995 MTWCC 14 Section 39-71-118(f), MCA (1991), which limits workers' compensation benefits available to an individual performing community service work under court order, does not violate constitutional provisions requiring equal protection, full legal redress, or substantive due process, nor does it inflict cruel and unusual punishment. The legislature's decision to provide a more limited benefits package to workers injured while performing court-ordered community service was rationally calculated to encourage public agencies and non-profit organizations to participate in community service programs while still affording some protection to the workers (medical benefits and impairment award).