Procedure: Trial: Continuance

McFerran v. Consolidated Freightways [10/21/99] 1999 MTWCC 63 Trial setting vacated where parties did not comply with discovery deadlines and rules set out in WCC rules and orders. Claimant failed to provide copies of medical records of physician whose opinion he intended to introduce at trial, relying instead on assertion that exchange of copy of opinion letter was sufficient. When surprised by the opinion letter, respondent should have moved for an extension of deadlines set in the Scheduling Order, rather than proceed on the assumption new information produced in response to the opinion letter would be admissible though late. If objecting to late information, claimant should have noted that objection in the Pretrial Order. Litigation in the WCC is not a game of hide the ball. The rules and orders of the Court require full, fair, and early disclosure of information and evidence relevant to the case. Counsel who disregard deadlines and disclosure requirements do so at their peril.

Fjelstad v. Fireman's Fund [10/15/99] 1999 MTWCC 62 Insurer moved to vacate trial setting because claimant sought to include in Pretrial Order issues not framed by petition and not mediated. Motion granted where claimant has raised new issues, such as that the settlement agreement should be reopened on grounds the insurer caused claimant mental distress, breached a fiduciary duty to him, or engaged in fraud. While newly articulated legal arguments or theories may often lie within the issues alleged in the petition, these new allegations are fact-based contentions not framed by the pleadings or subjected to full discovery. If claimant wants to litigate these issues, they must be mediated and a motion to amend filed in the WCC.

Draper v. State Compensation Ins. Fund [10/17/95] 1995 MTWCC 80 While section 39-71-2911, MCA (1995) authorizes the Workers’ Compensation Court to stay claims for benefits while a criminal prosecution relating to workers’ compensation benefits is pending, the stay is not automatic. Where claimant’s criminal trial is set for November 1995, the Court will entertain a request to specially set this matter in December 1995 or January 1996.