Moilanen v. Marbles Moving & Storage

214 Mont. 367, 694 P.2d 485 (1985)

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Moilanen v. Marbles Moving & Storage

Montana Supreme Court
214 Mont. 367, 694 P.2d 485 (1985)

Facts

Robert Moilanen (plaintiff) suffered an injury while working for Marbles Moving & Storage (Marbles) (defendant). Marbles’ insurance carrier began paying Moilanen temporary total-disability workers’-compensation benefits. Moilanen remained unable to work due to back and leg pain, and Moilanen asserted in Workers’ Compensation Court that he was permanently totally disabled. Moilanen also requested that his future benefits be awarded as a lump sum. Although a Montana state statute required a workers’-compensation claimant to make a written request for a lump-sum payment to state workers’-compensation officials and provide the officials with a plan for how the claimant would use the lump sum if the request were granted, Moilanen did not follow that required statutory procedure before requesting a lump-sum payment from the court. The trial court concluded that Moilanen had not yet proven permanent total disability and that Moilanen might be required to undergo back surgery to determine whether his condition could improve. The trial court also denied Moilanen’s request for a lump-sum payment based on (1) Moilanen’s failure to follow the required statutory procedure and (2) the trial court’s conclusion that Moilanen’s plan for a lump-sum award was too vague to support state officials’ grant of a lump-sum payment. Moilanen appealed to the Montana Supreme Court. The court first reversed the trial court’s disability determination, holding that Moilanen would not be required to undergo back surgery to prove a permanent disability. The court then considered whether the trial court had properly refused Moilanen’s request for a lump-sum payment of future benefits.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Shea, J.)

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