MONTANA STATE CONSTITUTION

Article II, section 4
INDIVIDUAL DIGNITY
 
MONTANA SUPREME COURT CASES
Henry v. State Fund, 1999 MT 126 The Occupational Disease Act violates the equal protection clause of the Montana Constitution in failing to provide rehabilitation benefits to occupationally diseased workers. In a case involving a herniated disk, the Court sees on rational basis for treating workers who are injured over one work shift differently from workers who are injured over two work shifts. Providing rehabilitation benefits to workers covered by the WCA, but not to workers covered by the ODA, is not rationally related to the legitimate governmental interest of returning workers to work as soon as possible after they have suffered a work-related injury.
Henry v. State Fund, 1999 MT 126 In addressing an equal protection challenge, the Court must first identify the classes involved and determine whether they are similarly situated. The next step is to determine the appropriate level of scrutiny to apply to the challenged legislation. In so doing, the Court must determine whether a suspect classification is involved or whether the nature of the individual interest involves a fundamental right, either or which would trigger a strict scrutiny analysis. The Court employs a middle-tier scrutiny when the right in question has its origins in the Montana Constitution, but is not found in the Declaration of Rights. If neither strict scrutiny nor middle-tier scrutiny is required, the appropriate test is the rational basis test, which requires the government to show (1) that the statute's objective was legitimate and (2) that the statute's objective bears a rational relationship to the classification used by the legislature. Stated another way, the statute must bear a rational relationship to a legitimate governmental interest.
Henry v. State Fund, 1999 MT 126 Workers' compensation statutes neither infringe upon the rights of a suspect class nor involve fundamental rights which would trigger a strict scrutiny analysis. The test to be applied when analyzing workers' compensation statutes is the rational basis test.
 
 
MONTANA WORKERS' COMPENSATION COURT CASES
Caldwell v. MACo Workers' Compen. Trust [07/07/10] 2010 MTWCC 24 Rehabilitation benefits are meant to assist only workers who will return to work.  Since § 39-71-1006, MCA, already takes the workers’ age into consideration to determine eligibility for benefits, the Court finds no rational basis for automatically terminating rehabilitation benefits upon retirement eligibility, pursuant to § 39-71-702, MCA.  This automatic termination bears no rational relationship to a legitimate governmental interest and violates equal protection as guaranteed by Art. II, § 4, Mont. Const.
Powell v. State Fund [12/14/00] 2000 MT 31 Where the right to receive workers compensation benefits is not a fundamental right triggering a strict scrutiny analysis of equal protection, the test for assessing whether the statutory cap on domiciliary care benefits established in section 39-71-1107(3), MCA (1995) is the rational relationship test, which asks whether a legitimate governmental objective bears some identifiable rational relationship to a discriminatory classification.
(VanHorn) Killion v. State Fund [4/22/99] 1999 MTWCC 30 Section 39-71-721(5), MCA, which provides that workers' compensation benefits to a surviving spouse terminate upon remarriage, does not violate constitutional provisions guaranteeing equal protection. The classification involved here marital status is not a suspect classification requiring heightened scrutiny. Eastman v. Atlantic Richfield, 237 Mont. 332, 338, 777 P.2d 862, 865 (1989). In assessing whether the statute bears a rational relationship to a legitimate governmental purpose, the Court is not limited to the legislative record but must consider "every conceivable basis" for the statute. A rational basis for terminating death benefits upon remarriage exists in that death benefits are intended to replace, at least in part, the loss of financial support provided by a deceased spouse. Remarriage provides a new relationship with the same obligation that existed between the claimant and the deceased spouse.
 
Article II, section 5
FREEDOM OF RELIGION
 
(VanHorn) Killion v. State Fund [4/22/99] 1999 MTWCC 30 Section 39-71-721(5), MCA, which provides that workers' compensation benefits to a surviving spouse terminate upon remarriage, does not violate constitutional provisions prohibiting the state from establishing religion or preventing the free exercise thereof. The statute is religiously neutral and simply reflects the fact that Montana laws create legal obligations between husband and wife, attempting to provide replacement income for the loss of support upon the death of a spouse.
 
Article II, section 10
RIGHT OF PRIVACY
 
Thompson v. State of Montana and Liberty Northwest Ins. Corp. and Montana State Fund [04/28/06] 2006 MTWCC 19 Intervenor’s argument that if a remedy does not appear in the annotations, it must not be a permissible remedy, is not only a questionable conclusion, it is also an erroneous statement of fact. Remedies aside from “nondisclosure” are included in the annotations to Mont. Const., Art. II, § 10.
(VanHorn) Killion v. State Fund [4/22/99] 1999 MTWCC 30 Section 39-71-721(5), MCA, which provides that workers' compensation benefits to a surviving spouse terminate upon remarriage, does not violate constitutional protections of privacy. While claimant argues the insurer's inquiries regarding her marital status invaded her privacy, the record does not indicate that claimant in fact sought to keep her marital status private in any other context. Moreover, society does not recognize a reasonable expectation of privacy in one's marital status.
Flynn and Miller v. Montana State Fund and Liberty Northwest Ins. Corp. [11/05/04] 2004 MTWCC 75 The right of privacy extends only to information as to which an individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy as measured by societal expectations. Pengra v. State, 2000 MT 291, 302 Mont. 276, 14 P.3d 499; Jefferson County v. Montana Standard, 2003 MT 304, 318 Mont. 173, 79 P.3d 805. Claimants in workers' compensation cases do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy with respect to their identities and information pertaining to their entitlement to benefits, at least with respect to attorneys who have established their entitlement to further benefits under the common fund doctrine and where the attorneys are prohibited from disseminating information regarding their identities and claims to others.
 
Article II, section 16
THE ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE - FULL REDRESS
 
MONTANA SUPREME COURT CASES
Oberson v. Federated Mut. Ins. Co., 2005 MT 329, 330 Mont. 1, 126 P.3d 459 Montana’s public policy, as defined in Article II, Section 16, precludes application of another state’s subrogation law to the claimant’s personal injury recovery until the claimant realizes the full measure of his adjudicated damages.
Thayer v. UEF, 1999 MT 304 Section 39-71-511, MCA (1991), which authorizes the Uninsured Employers' Fund to discharge benefits payable to claimants of uninsured employers by the amount of third-party recovery, does not violate the "full redress" provision of Article II, Section 16 of the Montana Constitution. Where the UEF is not an insurer and was statutorily created to provide a substitute source of benefits to the employee of an uninsured and impecunious employer, limiting the UEF's obligation to the extent of the uninsured employer's ability to compensate the claimant does not diminish the right to full legal redress against the uninsured employer.
Connery v. Liberty Northwest Ins. Corp., 1998 MT 125 Supreme Court affirms WCC conclusion that section 39-71-416, MCA (1995) because that statute, which authorizes an insurer to reduce benefits by up to 30% when a claimant recovers against a third-party tortfeasor, violates the full redress provision of Article II, section 16 of the Montana Constitution.
Grooms v. Ponderosa Inn, State Fund, and Department of Labor and Industry, 283 Mont. 459, 942 P.2d 699 (1997) Supreme Court affirmed WCC's conclusion claimant's constitutional right to full redress is not violated by provision of section 39-72-602, MCA, that she pay for a second panel evaluation conducted at her request. The provision that she pay for a second evaluation at her request does not deprive her of a hearing on her claim.
MONTANA WORKERS' COMPENSATION COURT CASES
Siaperas v. Montana State Fund [8/20/02] 2002 MTWCC 40 "Full redress" refers to third party actions. Full redress is not required in cases covered by the Workers' Compensation Act and the "full redress" language does not require payment of a claimant's attorney fees.

Thayer (Deceased), Phyllis Thayer v. UEF [10/28/98] 1998 MTWCC 77. The statutory authorization that the UEF may discharge benefits payable to claimants of uninsured employers by the amount of third-party recovery does not violate the "full redress" provision of Article II, Section 16 of the Montana Constitution. See also Montana Supreme Court decision affirming WCC, Thayer v. UEF, 1999 MT 304.

W.R. Grace & Co. and Transportation Ins. Co. v. Riley [3/23/98] 1998 MTWCC 26 Section 39-71-721, MCA (1985), which under section 39-72-701, MCA (1985) applies in an occupational disease case involving death benefits, is not unconstitutional by allowing an insurer to take a credit against future death benefits corresponding to that portion of settlement monies paid to the decedent which are attributable to periods of time after decedent's death. It does not violate Montana's full redress provision where it involves a statutory entitlement to benefits and does not violate the narrow proscription covered by the constitutional provision.
Connery v. Liberty Northwest Ins. Corp. [9/4/97] 1997 MTWCC 48 An insurer is not allowed to reduce benefits under section 39-71-416, MCA (1995) because that statute, which authorizes an insurer to reduce benefits by up to 30% when a claimant recovers against a third-party tortfeasor, violates the full redress provision of Article II, section 16 of the Montana Constitution. (Note: affirmed in Connery v. Liberty Northwest Ins. Corp., 1998 MT 125.)
Grooms v. Ponderosa Inn and State Fund [7/16/96] 1996 MTWCC 51 Claimant's constitutional right to full redress is not violated by provision of section 39-72-602, MCA, that she pay for a second panel evaluation conducted at her request. The provision that she pay for a second evaluation at her request does not deprive her of a hearing on her claim. (Note: WCC was affirmed on this ground in Grooms v. Ponderosa Inn, 283 Mont. 459, 942 P.2d 699 (1997).)
Zempel v. Uninsured Employers' Fund [2/21/96] 1996 MTWCC 19 UEF's refusal to pay benefits to employee of business wholly owned by enrolled member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and operated exclusively within reservation boundaries did not violate legal redress clause of Montana Constitution where WCA did not apply to employer and rational relationship existed between that exclusion and legitimate governmental purpose of encouraging tribal self-sufficiency and economic development.
 

Article II, section 25

SELF-INCRIMINATION AND DOUBLE JEOPARDY
 
Hodges v. State Fund [01/17/01] 2001 MTWCC 1 The double jeopardy clause of the Montana Constitution does not preclude an insurer, even the State Fund, from raising an affirmative defense of fraud after claimant has been acquitted of fraud in a criminal prosecution. Denial of benefits based upon fraud is not a penalty within the meaning of the double jeopardy clause.
Powell v. State Fund [2/4/99] 1999 MTWCC 10 The WCC will not consider a constitutional challenge to subsection (4) of section 39-71-1107, MCA (1995) where claimant has no claim under that subsection. Objections to standing cannot be waived and may be considered sua sponte by the Court. Section 39-71-1107(3), MCA (1995) does not violate federal or state guarantees of equal protection and substantive due process. To succeed in a constitutional challenge, claimant must persuade the Court beyond a reasonable doubt that the statute is not constitutional. Equal protection provisions do not prohibit different treatment of different groups or classes of people so long as all persons within a group or class are treated the same. The essence of substantive due process is similar as applied to this case; the statute must be reasonably related to a permissible legislative objective. A court considering a constitutional challenge is not limited to reasons for the legislation as set out on the face of the statutes or in legislative history, but may consider any possible purpose of the legislation. Here, while the goal of cost containment alone may not save legislation which treats similarly situated people differently, there are cogent and logical reasons for limiting payments to family members providing 24-hour domiciliary care. Family members providing such care typically reside with the injured worker, meaning they generally continue their ordinary life activities during some of the day, and typically do not provide the trained, focused, professional care given by non-family members who are working away from their own home. These differences justify the statute.