Re-Employment Preference: Jury Trial

Seger v. Magnum Oil, Incorporated [10/29/99] 1999 MTWCC 67 Self-insured employer's motion to dismiss injured worker's claim for denial of reemployment preference under section 39-71-317, MCA (1999) denied. Although employer argued WCC lacked jurisdiction, section 39-71-317, MCA (1999) gives the WCC "exclusive jurisdiction to administer or resolve a dispute concerning the reemployment preference." Even though claimant's injury occurred prior to passage of the 1999 statute, the WCC has jurisdiction where precedent indicates legislatures may change the forum for resolution of pending disputes without enacting a "retroactive" law. Although the WCC was initially concerned the change in jurisdiction may impact an accrued substantive right to jury trial, further consideration indicates the reemployment preference is a creation of statute to which no right to jury trial attached.