Statutes and Statutory Interpretation: Applicable Law

MONTANA SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

EBI/Orion Group v. Blythe, 281 Mont. 50, 931 P.2d 38 (1997) The rule of Buckman v. Montana Deaconess Hosp. (1986) 224 Mont. 318, 730 P.2d 380, only applies to substantive rights of a claimant, such as the right to benefits allowed at the time of injury. The statutes in effect at the time of trial control when the subject is procedural rather than substantive. State Fund v. Sky Country (1989) 239 Mont. 376, 379, 780 P.2d 1135, 1137. A rule as to who is qualified to conduct an IME is a procedural rather than a substantive rule, making the law in effect as to IMES as of the time of trial controlling.

 
MONTANA WORKERS' COMPENSATION COURT CASES

Newlon v. Teck American Inc. (Formerly Cominco) [05/08/14] 2014 MTWCC 12 The Court rejected Petitioner’s argument that his claim should be governed by the version of the WCA in effect in 1978, when Petitioner did not have a workers’ compensation claim in 1978; rather, the insurer had referenced that year in some of its correspondence.  Petitioner cited no authority for the proposition that a claim should be governed by an unsubstantiated date of injury which came about from an apparent clerical error. 

McCoy v. Travelers Casualty & Surety [02/06/14] 2014 MTWCC 3 Since the date of injury controls the disposition of a claim, in rare circumstances, the timing of an industrial injury relative to the effective date of an amendment to applicable statutes may cause different versions of the WCA to apply on a per-statute basis.  In this instance, Petitioner was injured on April 22, 2013, and the 2013 version of § 39-71-402, MCA, was in effect on that date; however, no other 2013 amendments were yet in effect and therefore the 2011 version of the remainder of the WCA applied.

Johnson v. Liberty NW Ins. Corp. [08/05/13] 2013 MTWCC 18 Where it is undisputed that the 1999 version of the WCA applies to Petitioner’s claim, amendments, including a retroactivity provision, made to the 2011 version are inapplicable.

Dostal v. Uninsured Employers' Fund [12/04/12] 2012 MTWCC 45 Where the 1991 WCA controls the claim, the UEF cannot read additional requirements into the statute which the legislature added in later years.

Dostal v. Uninsured Employers' Fund [11/05/12] 2012 MTWCC 40 Under § 39-71-737, MCA (1991), the statute included language which excepted impairment awards from the classes of benefits which could not be paid concurrently.  Therefore, in a claim under the 1991 statutes, cases which interpreted an older version of the statute which did not include this exception are not pertinent to the present case and will not preclude Petitioner from receiving an impairment award concurrent with other benefits.

Dostal v. Uninsured Employers' Fund [12/22/10] 2010 MTWCC 38 Statutes of limitation are procedural.  The Montana Supreme Court held in Fleming v. Int’l Paper Co., 2008 MT 327, ¶¶ 26, 28, 346 Mont. 141, 194 P.3d 77, that procedural statutes are not an exception to the rule that the statutes in effect on the date of the accident or injury control in workers’ compensation cases.
Sears v. Travelers Ins. [4/8/97] 1997 MTWCC 18 Section 39-71-609, MCA (1995), allows termination of TTD benefits on the date the worker has been released to work in some capacity, without 14-days notice to any party. While claimant argues the 1993 statute applies because that statute was in effect on his date of injury, Buckman v. Montana Deaconess Hospital, 224 Mont. 318, 321, 730 P.2d 380, 382 (1986), that rule applies only to substantive provisions, not to provisions governing procedure.
Bouldin v. Liberty Northwest Ins. Co. [3/4/97] 1997 MTWCC 8 Where claimant’s right to compensation accrued at the time she filed her occupational disease claim, the law in effect at that time controls. This is consistent with the general rule in workers’ compensation cases that the law in effect at the time of injury controls the case.
Maggs v. State Compensation Ins. Fund [05/16/95] 1995 MTWCC 36 Where Wolfe v. Webb, 251 Mont. 217, 226-227 (1992) holds that a statute changing the forum authorized to resolve a particular dispute is a procedural change applying to cases that arose prior to the change, the 1989 statute applies to claimant’s 1991 claim, with that statute conferring original jurisdiction on the Department of Labor and Industry to resolve claimant’s argument that the insurer is estopped from relying on the one-year claim-filing statute of limitations of section 39-71-601, MCA (1989).