Good Faith Denial of Benefits When Insurer Relies on Rulings of Workers’ Compensation Court
Last week, the Montana Supreme Court held that the insurer acted reasonably when it stopped payments based upon its reliance on a prior order from the Workers’ Compensation Court (“WCC”). Steward v. Liberty Northwest Ins. Corp., 2013 WK 1739577, *7 (Mont. Apr. 23, 2013). The insurer terminated payments to the claimant without notice, but only after the insurer reviewed an order from the WCC. The WCC denied the claimant’s request for an increased impairment rating because it did not see any causal relationship between the complained pain issues and the claimant’s on-the-job injury. In addition, after a short break in payments, the insurer resumed paying for the pain patches under a reservation of rights.
The Court held that since the insurer acted reasonably in relying on the WCC’s ruling, the claimant was not entitled to statutory penalties or reimbursement of attorneys’ fees. Id.