Class Actions

Gerber v. Montana State Fund [06/22/12] 2012 MTWCC 21 The Court denied Petitioner’s motion for class action where Petitioner offered only a “belief” that a large class of claimants have been denied permanent partial disability benefits pursuant to § 39-71-744, MCA, making their joinder impractical.  A “belief” without supporting evidence is an insufficient basis to grant class action status.

Mathews v. Liberty NW [7/8/04] 2004 MTWCC 55 In determining whether an action may proceed as a class action in the Workers' Compensation Court, the Court is guided by Rule 23 of the Montana Rules of Civil Procedure. Murer v. Montana State Compensation Mutual Ins. Fund, 257 Mont. 434, 436, 849 P.2d 1036, 1037 (1993) (Murer I).
Mathews v. Liberty NW [7/8/04] 2004 MTWCC 55 Where the claimants have no connection with insurers other than the insurers providing coverage for their individual claims, a proposed class consisting of all other insurers will not be certified since the typicality requirement of Rule 23(a), Mont. R. Civ. P., is not met. Murer v. Montana State Compensation Mutual Ins. Fund, 257 Mont. 434, 436, 849 P.2d 1036, 1037 (1993) (Murer I).
Mathews v. Liberty NW [7/8/04] 2004 MTWCC 55 A class will not be certified unless common questions of law and fact predominate over individual questions and a class action would be superior to individual litigation.
Cheetham v. Liberty NW Ins. Corp. [6/17/03] 2003 MTWCC 44 Without determining specific entitlements of other claimants, or passing on any possible defenses of the insurer, the Court will retain jurisdiction to enforce entitlements of other claimants which result from a decision of this Court or the Supreme Court finding that the insurer has been using an improper formula when computing benefits.
Cheetham v. Liberty NW Ins. Corp. [6/17/03] 2003 MTWCC 44 Where insurer is using improper formula for calculating benefits, insurer generally has a duty to recalculate the benefits of other similarly situated claimants and pay any additional benefits due. Murer v. State Compensation Ins. Fund, 283 Mont. 210, 223, 942 P.2d 69, 76-77 (1997).
Ruhd v. Liberty Northwest Ins. Corp. [5/30/03] 2003 MTWCC 35 Where informal proceedings such as those followed in Murer and Broeker can accomplish the same end as a class action, those procedures will be followed in lieu of class certification. See Miller v. Liberty Mutual Fire Ins. Co., 2003 MTWCC 6.
Ruhd v. Liberty Northwest [8/7/02] 2002 MT 290N In an unpublished decision, Supreme Court applies Rausch v. State Fund, 2000 MT 203, to hold permanently totally disabled claimant entitled to an impairment award under the 1999 Workers' Compensation Act. Remand to Workers' Compensation Court for determination of proper method of payment and regarding whether this claimant's counsel, or counsel handling the Rausch matter, are entitled to common fund attorneys fees relating to claimants allegedly situated similarly to this claimant.
Fisch v. State Fund [9/13/00] 2000 MTWCC 56 In case raising issue of whether and when PTD claimants are entitled to payment of an impairment award, insurer offered to pay impairment awards in a lump sum. One named claimant did not accept the offer. Insurer's motion to dismiss all but class certification issues as to claimants who did accept offer was denied where issues remained as to putative class these claimants purport to represent. Note: The WCC decision was reversed and remanded in Rausch et al. v. State Fund [9/5/02] 2002 MT 203.