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JANIE L. ROBINSON vs. MONTANA STATE FUND

Workers' Compensation Court of the State of Montana

Is Petitioner entitled to his offset and due process claims?

IN THE WORKERS’ COMPENSATION COURT OF THE STATE OF MONTANA 2018 MTWCC 7
WCC No. 2016-3783. JANIE L. ROBINSON vs. MONTANA STATE FUND.

ORDER AND JUDGMENT GRANTING RESPONDENT’S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AS TO PETITIONER’S OFFSET CLAIM, DENYING PETITIONER’S CROSS MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AS TO PETITIONER’S OFFSET CLAIM, AND DISMISSING PETITIONER’S DUE PROCESS CLAIM FOR LACK OF SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION

Summary: Respondent moved for summary judgment on Petitioner’s two causes of action. First, Respondent argues it can take the Social Security offset from Petitioner’s PTD benefits under § 39-71-702(4), MCA, because Petitioner is receiving PTD benefits and SSDI benefits because of her two industrial injuries. Second, Respondent argues it did not violate Petitioner’s due process rights when it took the offset and began recouping an alleged overpayment before she had the opportunity for a hearing. Petitioner cross-moved for summary judgment. First, she argues that Respondent cannot take the offset because the statute states that the insurer can take the offset only when SSDI benefits are awarded “because of the injury,” which Petitioner interprets as applying only when the claimant has one industrial injury. Second, Petitioner argues that Respondent violated her right to due process by taking the offset and recouping an overpayment before she had the opportunity for a hearing and that she is entitled to “such damages as are just for the violation of her right to due process.”

Held: Respondent is entitled to summary judgment on Petitioner’s offset claim. Section 39-71-702(4), MCA, covers situations in which a claimant is receiving PTD benefits and SSDI benefits because of two industrial injuries under the rule of statutory construction providing that the “singular includes the plural.” This interpretation also upholds the
legislative intent of the offset statute. Petitioner’s due process claim, in which the only remedy she seeks is damages, is dismissed because this Court does not have subject matter jurisdiction over tort claims.

Judgment: Respondent’s motion for summary judgment is granted as to Petitioner’s offset claim. Petitioner’s cross-motion for summary judgment is denied as to Petitioner’s offset claim. Petitioner’s due process claim is dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Pursuant to ARM 24.5.348 (2), this Order and Judgment is certified as final and, for purposes of appeal, shall be considered as a notice of entry of judgment.

READ FULL DOCUMENT AT ORIGNAL SOURCE: http://wcc.dli.mt.gov/m/McCrary_2018MTWCC5.pdf