Montana Code Annotated 2023



Part 24. Mediation

Mediation Procedure

39-71-2411. Mediation procedure. (1) Except as otherwise provided, a claimant or an insurer having a dispute relating to benefits under this chapter may petition the department for mediation of the dispute.

(2) A party may take part in mediation proceedings with or without representation.

(3) The mediator shall review the department file for the case and may receive any additional documentation or argument either party submits.

(4) The claimant and an employee of the insurer or an authorized third-party examiner with settlement authority shall attend any scheduled mediation conference in person or shall participate by telephone conference call.

(5) The mediator shall request that each party offer an argument summarizing the party's position. A party's argument must fully present the party's case. The argument is not limited by the rules of evidence.

(6) After the parties have presented all their information and arguments to the mediator, the mediator shall recommend a solution to the parties within a reasonable time to be established by rule.

(7) A party shall notify the mediator within 25 days of the mailing of the mediator's report as to whether the party accepts the mediator's recommendation. If either party does not accept the mediator's recommendation, the party may petition the workers' compensation court for resolution of the dispute.

(8) (a) If a mediator determines that either party failed to cooperate in the mediation process, the mediator shall prepare a written report setting forth the determination and the grounds for the determination. The report must be mailed to the parties and to the workers' compensation court. Unless a party disputes the determination as set forth in subsection (8)(c), the parties shall repeat the mediation process, but only one time.

(b) A mediator may determine that a party has failed to cooperate in the mediation process only if the party failed to:

(i) supply information or offer a summary of the party's position as reasonably requested by the mediator;

(ii) attend scheduled mediation conferences unless excused by the mediator; or

(iii) listen to and review the information and position offered by the opposing party.

(c) If a party disputes a mediator's determination that the party failed to cooperate in the mediation process, the party may file a petition with the workers' compensation court. Upon receipt of a petition, the court shall summon the parties and the mediator to determine by oral discussion whether the mediator's determination of noncooperation is supportable. If the court finds that the mediator's determination is supportable, the court may order the parties to attempt a second time to mediate their dispute.

History: En. Sec. 57, Ch. 464, L. 1987; amd. Sec. 5, Ch. 427, L. 1989; amd. Sec. 64, Ch. 613, L. 1989; amd. Sec. 20, Ch. 516, L. 1995; amd. Sec. 2, Ch. 39, L. 2005; amd. Sec. 32, Ch. 416, L. 2005.