Limitations Periods: Tolling


Weidow v. Uninsured Employers' Fund, 2010 MT 292 The doctrine of equitable tolling applies to procedural time requirements such as § 39-71-520, MCA.  These procedural time bars constitute affirmative defenses subject to equitable principles and constitutional review.  In limited circumstances, it allows for an action to be pursued despite the failure to comply with statutory filing deadlines.

Siebken v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co. [10/21/08] 2008 MT 353 Courts may equitably toll the 30-day notice requirement for latent injuries. However, in this case, even with the equitable tolling, the claimant failed to notify his employer within 30 days, as required by statute, that he had discovered that he had probably suffered an unusual strain during a work-related incident.

Hardie v. Montana State Fund [01/09/12] 2012 MTWCC 2 The Montana Supreme Court has previously held that the statute of limitations in § 39-71-2905(2), MCA, is tolled from the date a claimant files for mediation through the 25-day timeframe set forth in § 39-71-2411(7), MCA.  The court has further held that the tolling period is calculated from the date of the mediation request through the deadline for both parties to respond to the mediator’s recommendation.  Petitioner’s petition in this matter was timely as it was filed within two years of the claim denial, when the tolling of the statute of limitations from the date of the mediation petition filing through 25 days following the issuance of the mediator’s report is taken into account.

Johnson v. Montana State Fund [07/22/11] 2011 MTWCC 22 Although Petitioner claimed the statute of limitations is tolled because he believes Respondent’s denial of his claim was unreasonable, the Court noted that, reasonable or not, Respondent indisputably denied Petitioner’s claim on a date certain and neither statutes nor case law provides a distinction between types of denials such that the limitations period would be tolled.

Florence v. Morales [02/24/11] 2011 MTWCC 5 No equitable basis exists for the Court to toll the time limitations where the uninsured employers presented no evidence to suggest that they were incapable of asserting their rights, but only that they suffered from medical conditions which made it more difficult for them to do so.  In cases where the Montana Supreme Court has found that the time bar should be equitably tolled, the affected parties all diligently pursued their claims and missed the time limits due to unclear procedural requirements.  Here, the uninsured employers did not diligently pursue their claim and did not misunderstand procedural obligations.
Boyd v. Zurich [08/12/09] 2009 MTWCC 26 Section 39-71-2905(2), MCA, unambiguously requires that “a petition for hearing . . . must be filed within 2 years after benefits are denied.” This Court has never recognized an “implied tolling” until the claimant obtains medical evidence in support of his claim. Such a tolling would effectively eliminate the statute of limitations for every claim that is denied because the claimant lacked supporting medical evidence.
Palmer v. Safeco [12/22/06] 2006 MTWCC 44 Although Petitioner argued that the termination of his benefits pursuant to § 39-71-704(1)(e), MCA, after 60 consecutive months of non-use should be tolled because he was receiving medical treatment for difficulties which he was unaware stemmed from his industrial accident, the statute in question is not a statute of limitations but a statute of repose and cannot be tolled by the courts, but only by legislative mandate.
Fleming v. International Paper [07/08/05] 2005 MTWCC 34 The statute requiring the claimant to petition the Workers’ Compensation Court for benefits within two years of an insurer’s denial of benefits, § 39-71-2905(2), MCA (1997-2003), is tolled during mediation. See Preston v. Transportation Ins. Co., 2004 MT 339, 324 Mont. 225, 102 P.3d 527.
UEF v. Hume [11/18/03] 2003 MTWCC 67 Under Uninsured Employers' Fund v. Gould, 2003 MTWCC 23, and Intermountain Deaconess Home v. State of Montana, 191 Mont. 309, 623 P.2d 1384 (1981), the limitations period for the UEF to file a petition for reimbursement from an uninsured employer was tolled by the UEF's Order Determining Liability of Uninsured Employer which issued prior to the running of the limitations period. While the 1989 statutes in effect when the claim arose provided different procedures for seeking indemnification from an uninsured employer, those differences are immaterial under Gould and Intermountain.
UEF v. Gould [3/21/03] 2003 MTWCC 23 Under Intermountain Deaconess Home v. State of Montana, 191 Mont. 309, 623 P.2d 1384 (1981), the two-year statute of limitations applicable to the UEF's action against an uninsured employer for reimbursement of benefits paid or to be paid on behalf of the claimant is tolled by an administrative demand letter sent to the uninsured employer within the two-year period.
Aaby v. MMIA [11/5/01] 2001 MTWCC 57 Insurer moved for summary judgment against minor daughter and ex-wife of decedent, arguing neither filed claim for death benefits within a year of the decedent's death pursuant to section 39-71-601, MCA (1993). The motion regarding the daughter is denied where no guardian or guardian ad litem was appointed to represent her interests until this year. Under Randall James Simons-Tollefson v. State Compensation Insurance Fund, 2000 MTWCC 7, no one is authorized to bring a claim for death benefits on behalf of a minor child until a guardian or guardian ad litem is appointed for that purpose and the statute does not begin to run until appointment. The Court does not reach the merits of the summary judgment motion against the ex-wife where the insurer has also moved for default against her, which motion must first be resolved after notice and hearing.
Partin v. State Fund [3/14/97] 1997 MTWCC 11 WCC reversed conclusion of DOL hearing officer that reversed Department's order waiving one-year filing requirement on basis of equitable estoppel. Hearing officer erred in finding that, even if claimant's testimony were credited, he had not established elements justifying equitable estoppel of assertion of statute of limitations. If claimant's testimony is credited, he has established the requirements of equitable estoppel based on the employer's alleged representations to him concerning use of health insurance and payment of additional expenses by the employer.