Settlements: Reopening: Mistake of Law

Miller v. State Fund [5/14/01] 2001 MTWCC 21 Claimant failed to convince the Court that the insurer erroneously reduced settlement, made under 1983 law, to present-value where the record demonstrated insurer disputed liability for permanent total disability and negotiated a settlement for specific monetary payment for claimant to operate a ranch. I find no evidence that the parties agreed to a lump-sum payout of permanent total disability benefits, which they then erroneously reduced to present value.

Miller v. State Fund [11/17/00] 2000 MTWCC 72 Mutual mistake of law is a recognized ground for reopening a settlement.

Miller v. State Fund [11/17/00] 2000 MTWCC 72 Unilateral mistake of law is arguably a ground for reopening a settlement where the other party was aware fo the mistake and did not correct it.
Morrissette v. Zurich American Ins. Co. [1/12/00] 2000 MTWCC 2 Where the factual record leaves no question that both the insurer and claimant were mistaken on the status of a fusion of vertebrae in claimant's lumbar spine, and as to his having reached MMI, the parties were mutually mistaken as to claimant's medical condition at the time they entered settlement. The mistake was material where representatives of the insurer testified that MMI was a prerequisite to considering settlement and claimant testified he would not have settled if he had known his fusion had failed and there might be objective reason for his continued experience of pain. Claimant's attorney's attempt to halt settlement upon learning of the possible mistake regarding medical condition was also strong evidence that the mistake was material from claimant's perspective. Settlement set aside on the basis of mutual mistake of fact.
Miller v. State Fund [5/6/99] 1999 MTWCC 34.1 Pro se claimant requests rehearing of Court's decision that his request to reopen a settlement is barred by the statute of limitations. (See Miller v. State Fund, 1999 MTWCC 21.) In a paragraph to paragraph response to the Court's findings and conclusions, he explains that he was unaware of his right to reopen the settlement after it was made. If claimant were arguing that his settlement was made based on a mistake of law, an issue for resolution may be presented. His argument, however, is that he was ignorant of the statute of limitations and his right to move to reopen within the limitations period. Ignorance of the law does not toll the statute of limitations. Wisher v. Higgs, 257 Mont. 132, 140, 849 P.2d 152, 157 (1993).