Limitation Period : Occupational Disease

Kessel v. Liberty Northwest Ins. Corp. [11/27/07] 2007 MT 305 Under § 39-72-602, MCA, a final “denial” of an OD claim cannot take place until after an OD evaluation has been conducted. Section 39-71-2905, MCA, plainly states that a petition for hearing must be filed within two years after benefits are denied. In the context of § 39-72-602, MCA, such a denial in an OD claim can take place only after an OD evaluation has been conducted.

Monroe v. MACO Workers Comp Trust [03/17/14] 2014 MTWCC 7 Both Petitioner and her deceased husband believed the husband’s asbestos-related disease (ARD) arose from the many years he worked for W.R. Grace.  After Petitioner’s husband died, her attorney found an industrial hygienist who explained how her husband was exposed to asbestos while on the county road crew, and a physician established that the husband’s ARD was more probably than not significantly impacted by his work for the county.  The Court concluded that Petitioner could not have known that the county was the last employer to injuriously expose her husband to asbestos-causing disease until informed by her attorney, and her claim was not time-barred pursuant to § 39-71-601(1), MCA.

Peterson v. Liberty NW Ins. Corp. [12/31/13] 2013 MTWCC 26 Where there have been numerous litigated claims for asbestos exposure at the Libby lumber mill, one of which was filed by a co-worker who trained and worked with Petitioner, for Petitioner to maintain that he did not know of asbestos clean-up at the mill, that he did not know of fellow co-workers who had filed claims, and that he did not know he could file a claim until informed by his attorney almost five years after being diagnosed with asbestos-related disease (ARD), is incongruous with Petitioner’s admitted knowledge of asbestos in and around the areas where he worked at the mill.  The Court concluded that Petitioner knew or should have known that his ARD was related to an OD within one year of it being diagnosed.  His claim is time-barred pursuant to § 39-72-403(1), MCA.

Romine v. Northerwestern Energy [10/17/12] 2012 MTWCC 35 Where Petitioner received both diagnoses and treatment for his shoulder and low-back complaints, the Court concluded that he should have known by that time that these conditions resulted from an occupational disease, thereby triggering the statute of limitations under § 39-71-601(3), MCA.  Conversely, since Petitioner did not receive a diagnosis or treatment for his cervical condition until nearly a year later, the statute of limitations for that condition did not start to run until diagnosis or treatment triggered it

Romine v. Northerwestern Energy [10/17/12] 2012 MTWCC 35 The statute of limitations begins to run when a worker knows or should know that he suffers from an occupational disease, as set forth in § 39-71-601(3), MCA.  The Court rejected Petitioner’s argument that the statute of limitations should not begin to run until the worker knows or should know that his employment is the leading cause contributing to the result.  The “major contributing cause” analysis goes to whether a condition is compensable as an occupational disease – not whether a worker knew or should have known that he suffers from an occupational disease. 

Shelly v. American Home Assurance Co. [12/06/07] 2007 MTWCC 52 Where Petitioner argued that under Corcoran v. Montana Schools Group Ins. Authority, 2000 MTWCC 30, the one year statute of limitation period was not triggered until he required treatment, the Court held that § 39-71-601, MCA, does not require the presence of symptoms to commence the statute of limitations. Petitioner’s complaint filed in district court in 2001 alleging that he suffered from an asbestos-related condition as a result of his employment with Respondent’s insured triggered the statute of limitations because this establishes that Petitioner knew he suffered from an occupational disease as of that date.
Re: Annetta Laundry [08/12/05] 2005 MTWCC 49 Section 39-72-403, MCA (1999), required a claimant to file a claim for an occupational disease “within 1 year from the date the claimant knew or should have known that the claimant's condition resulted from an occupational disease.” Under the plain language of the provision, the limitations period begins running only when the claimant is not only aware of her condition but is aware that the condition resulted from her work. The fact that the claimant received care for her condition more than one year prior to the filing of her claim does not start the running of the limitations period unless more than one year prior to filing the claim she was also aware that her condition was work related.

Mack v. Montana State Fund [08/12/05] 2005 MTWCC 48 The one-year limitations period in section 39-72-403, MCA (1995-2003), does not begin to run until the claimant recognizes he suffers from a specific and permanent medical condition requiring medical treatment. Taking over-the-counter medications which provide symptomatic relief of symptoms does not constitute medical treatment and the claimant’s association of symptoms which are relieved by over-the-counter medications to his work does not constitute knowledge that he is suffering from an occupational disease.