Defenses: Laches

Young v. Montana State Fund [01/08/08] 2008 MTWCC 2 A defense of laches may be raised in a workers’ compensation case. The nature and essential elements of the doctrine were adopted by this Court in UEF v. Hume, 2004 MTWCC1. In Anderson v. Stokes, 2007 MT 166, ¶ 19, 338 Mont. 118, 163 P.3d 1273, the Montana Supreme Court reiterated, “[F]or laches to apply, the court must find lack of diligence by the party against whom the defense is asserted and prejudice to the party asserting the defense.” Where Respondent waited an unexplained three months from the time it realized it had paid Petitioner funds to which he was not entitled until Respondent demanded the funds’ return, the Court found a lack of diligence favoring Petitioner’s argument that Respondent’s demand was barred by laches. However, Petitioner did not prove that he was prejudiced by Respondent’s delay and therefore Respondent’s demand is not barred by laches.
Cheetham v. Liberty NW [12/18/01] 2001 MTWCC 65 The doctrine of laches is inapplicable to a claim for domiciliary care benefits for a period during which the insurer denied all liability.