Stokes v. Golden Triangle, Inc.

Stokes v. Golden Triangle, Inc., 2012 MT 199 (July 14, 2015) (Rice. J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether Golden Triangle was entitled to tort immunity as an insured employer under the Workers’ Compensation Act.

Short Answer: Yes.

Affirmed

Facts: Golden Triangle is a Montana corporation doing business as First National Pawn in Great Falls. FNP, Inc. is a corporation that owns and controls pawn shops in Billings and Bozeman. Golden Triangle and FNP have the same shareholders but are separate corporate entities.

FNP applied for work comp insurance. Both FNP and Golden Triangle were listed on the schedule of named insureds. The binder listed FNP as the named insured and Golden Triangle as the additional named insured. When the policy was issued, however, it did not designate Golden Triangle as a named insured or otherwise reference it or its premises. It did, however, use Golden Triangle’s payroll to calculate premiums. The electronic copy of the policy included a Schedule of Supplementary Names, which identified Golden Triangle as an additional named insured.

Stokes was injured in February 2010 when a large column of ice that had formed on the outside corner of the building where Stokes worked for Golden Triangle fell on his head. Golden Triangle notified its work comp insurer, identifying FNP as Stokes’ employer. Stokes filed a claim, and received $207,147. Following an inquiry from the state work comp division, the insurer issued an endorsement clarifying that Golden Triangle was a covered insured. The premium did not change. 

Procedural Posture & Holding: Stokes sued Golden Triangle, alleging it was an uninsured employer, and Golden Triangle moved to dismiss on the basis of work comp exclusivity. The district court granted summary judgment to Golden Triangle, concluding it was an insured employer. Stokes appeals, and the Supreme Court affirms. 

Reasoning: The evidence supports a finding that Golden Triangle was a covered insured.