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MONTANA STATE FUND vs. LIBERTY NORTHWEST INS. CORP. and KIM L. WIARD

Workers' Compensation Court of the State of Montana

Is insurer liable for pre-existing condition of employee, or is insurer entitled to indemnification because of condition is preexisting?

IN THE WORKERS’ COMPENSATION COURT OF THE STATE OF MONTANA 2017 MTWCC 9
WCC No. 2015-3519. MONTANA STATE FUND vs. LIBERTY NORTHWEST INS. CORP.
and KIM L. WIARD.

Summary: Respondent accepted liability for Claimant’s 2011 bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome. Claimant changed positions and her symptoms essentially went away. In 2014, Claimant experienced an acute exacerbation of her chronic left carpal tunnel syndrome while working for the same employer, which by then, was insured by Petitioner. Petitioner paid Claimant benefits under a reservation of rights and filed a Petition for Hearing seeking indemnification from Respondent. The parties have cross-moved for summary judgment on the issue of liability for Claimant’s 2014 condition.

Held: In 2014, after reaching MMI for her 2011 condition, Claimant was required to work longer hours and extra shifts while Petitioner was the at-risk insurer. This exposure materially or substantially contributed to, and significantly aggravated, Claimant’s preexisting carpal tunnel syndrome. Therefore, Petitioner is liable for Claimant’s 2014 condition and is not entitled to indemnification from Respondent.

Judgment: Petitioner’s Motion for Summary Judgment is denied. Respondent’s Motion for Summary Judgment is granted.

READ FULL DOCUMENT AT ORIGNAL SOURCE: http://wcc.dli.mt.gov/w/Wiard_2017MTWCC9.pdf