39-72-703, MCA

Baker v. Trans. Ins. Co. [12/21/06] 2006 MTWCC 42 Because an impairment award under pre-1987 law is a partial disability benefit (see Grimshaw v. L. Peter Larson Co., 213 Mont. 291, 691 P.2d 805 (1984), and Fellenberg v. Trans. Ins. Co., 2005 MT 90, 326 Mont. 467, 110 P.3d 464), and Petitioner’s claim seeks an occupational disease impairment award, § 39-72-703, MCA (1985), prohibits Petitioner from receiving an impairment award.

Baker v. Trans. Ins. Co. [12/21/06] 2006 MTWCC 42 The Court concludes that the classes at issue in the case are similarly situated because a worker suffering from an on-the-job injury and a worker suffering from an occupational disease contracted in the workplace are “both physically impaired as a result of a work related activity and both in need of wage supplement benefits to compensate for the impairment to their earning capacity.” Stavenjord v. Montana State Fund, 2003 MT 67, 314 Mont. 466, 67 P.3d 229.
Baker v. Trans. Ins. Co. [12/21/06] 2006 MTWCC 42 This Court does not find the differences between the pre-1987 and post-1987 definitions of injury and occupational disease to be particularly remarkable. Nevertheless, Eastman v. Atlantic Richfield Co., 237 Mont. 332, 777 P.2d 862 (1989), holds that a rational basis exists for the differences in benefits provided by the 1985 ODA and WCA, and Eastman is controlling in the present case. Therefore, this Court holds that § 39-72-703, MCA (1985), is constitutional.