Procedure: Joining Third Parties

Moreau v. Transportation Ins. Co. [08/26/15] 2015 MTWCC 17 An employer insured under Plan No. 2 does not have an interest in a workers’ compensation case because it is not and cannot be liable for the benefits sought.  The Court can provide complete relief between the estate of the injured worker and the insurer and even though the employer agreed to indemnify the insurer, it is not jointly or severally liable for benefits and is therefore not a proper party under M.R.Civ.P. 20.

Moreau v. Transportation Ins. Co. [08/26/15] 2015 MTWCC 17 Persons whose interests are one step removed from the issue in the case are neither necessary nor indispensable parties under M.R.Civ.P. 19.  Therefore, an employer insured under Plan No. 2 is neither necessary nor indispensable even though the employer entered into an agreement to indemnify its insurer.  An insurer’s duty to pay benefits is nondelegable.

Wilson v. Uninsured Employers' Fund [07/22/09] 2009 MTWCC 22 Although newly-enacted legislation (HB 119) purports to join an uninsured employer in an action against the UEF, it does not specify in what capacity the uninsured employer is joined. The potential liabilities of the uninsured employer must be clearly defined. Section 2(c) of HB119 specified that the type of judgment which may be entered against an uninsured employer would require the uninsured employer to indemnify the department. This provision implies that the uninsured employer would be joined as a third-party respondent with the UEF as a third-party petitioner. Therefore, that is how the Court will join the uninsured employer.

Raymond v. Uninsured Employers' Fund [02/20/09] 2009 MTWCC 7 UEF’s motion to file a third-party petition against the alleged uninsured employers is denied where the UEF has apparently not followed the statutory procedure set forth in §39-71-506, MCA.
Montana State Fund v. Zurich American (In Re Golt) [01/21/09] 2009 MTWCC 3 When the evidence put Respondent on notice that Claimant’s condition might be related to her activities outside of her employment with both Petitioner’s and Respondent’s insureds, Respondent could have moved to have her named as a third-party respondent, but did not do so. Therefore the Court cannot hold Claimant liable for reimbursement because she has the right to due process which was not afforded to her via her non-party status in the case.
Lapier v. Montana State Fund [07/07/06] 2006 MTWCC 25 Where an insurer seeks to join a third-party respondent, and that third party resists joinder, setting forth various defenses which may ultimately absolve it of liability, it is nonetheless proper to join that third party so that these defenses may be resolved on their merits.
Ballard v. Stillwater Mining Co. [12/23/99] 1999 MTWCC 83 After suffering ankle injury working in Alaska, claimant worked as a miner in Montana and reinjured his ankle. The Alaska WC carrier paid benefits for ankle surgery following the reinjury, then demanded reimbursement from the Montana WC carrier upon realizing the surgery followed a Montana reinjury. When claimant filed a petition against the Montana carrier, it moved to join the Alaska carrier. After finding that it had personal jurisdiction over the Alaska carrier, the WCC found joinder appropriate because of common issues of law and fact in the various parties' claims against each other.
American Alternative Ins. Group v. Sorenson [12/8/99] 1999 MTWCC 79 When insurer sought to join prior insurer into occupational disease proceeding in WCC, prior insurer argued claimant had previously filed a claim against it for the same condition and any present claim against it was barred by collateral estoppel. Court nonetheless granted motion for joinder, reasoning that while the collateral estoppel defense may ultimately prevail, that defense is better asserted based on the prior insurer's presence in the case and development of a record.
Ballard v. Stillwater Mining Co. [9/1/99] 1999 MTWCC 54 Respondent moved to join another insurance company as a third-party respondent under ARM 24.5.308, but failed to serve the other insurer, as required by the rule. Motion denied where respondent failed to serve the other insurer.
Johnson v. Montana Municipal Insurance Authority [6/11/98] 1998 MTWCC 50 The UEF requested that an allegedly uninsured employer be formally joined as a party to an action brought by a worker alleging injury. In effect, the UEF's request for joinder is a request that it be permitted to file a third-party petition for indemnification. Although the Court did not at the time of this action have a rule for third-party petitions, the WCC follows where appropriate the Montana Rules of Civil Procedure. Applying the principles behind Mont.R.Civ.P. 14(a), the UEF will be permitted to join the employer as resolving issues with participation of the employer will reduce the possibility of multiple actions and potentially inconsistent adjudications. (Following this decision, ARM 24.5.307A was adopted, which specifies that in any case involving entitlement to benefits from the uninsured employers' fund, the alleged uninsured employer shall be deemed a party to the action.)
Stormont v. National Union Fire of Pittsburgh [1/3/96]1996 MTWCC 1 Motion to join denied where it was based on assertion that treating chiropractor “may suggest” that claimant’s present condition is attributable to an earlier injury, not affirmative opinion. Conjecture about what a medical provider may or may not say is not sufficient basis to hail an additional party into Court.
Blowers v. Montana Insurance Guaranty Association [02/28/95] 1995 MTWCC 15 Where respondent-employer has been paying death benefits directly to beneficiaries of deceased worker due to insolvency of its insurer, Court grants respondent’s motion to join Montana Insurance Guaranty Association into case seeking lump sum conversion of death benefits.