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PAUL E. FRANK v. THE BUNKER HILL COMPANY

November 29, 2010

PAUL E. FRANK, CLAIMANT-APPELLANT,
v.
THE BUNKER HILL COMPANY, EMPLOYER/SELF-INSURED, BUNKER LIMITED PARTNERSHIP, SELF-INSURED, DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS.



Appeal from the Industrial Commission. Industrial Commission decision, affirmed.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Burdick, Justice

Coeur d'Alene, November 2010

2010 Opinion No. 124

Stephen W. Kenyon, Clerk

This matter comes before this Court on an appeal from the Industrial Commission's ("the Commission") order entered on remand from the case of Frank v. Bunker Hill Co., 142 Idaho 126, 124 P.3d 1002 (2005). On appeal Paul Frank argues that the Commission erred in failing to award him reimbursement for the cost of past and future medical insurance, which he claims is required to pay for his medical expenses incurred as the result of his industrial injury. Frank also appeals the denial of attorney fees for the proceedings held before the Commission. We affirm the Commission.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Frank was injured in a mining accident in November of 1980 while working for the Bunker Hill Company ("Bunker Hill"). Frank, 142 Idaho at 127, 124 P.3d at 1003. Frank filed a worker's compensation claim and was awarded total permanent disability in 1984. Id. Bunker Hill requested a rehearing and the award was reduced to 55% total and permanent disability. Id.

Frank appealed that reduction, which was affirmed by this Court in 1988. Id. See also Frank v. Bunker Hill Co., 117 Idaho 790, 792 P.2d 815 (1988), addendum filed (1990).

On May 22, 1991, Frank filed an application requesting a hearing for redetermination of his disability rating. Id. at 128, 124 P.3d at 1004. The next thirteen years brought a complex and confusing procedural history involving multiple bankruptcies, which it is unnecessary to reiterate here.*fn1 On March 24, 2004, the Commission entered an order denying reconsideration. Id. at 129, 124 P.3d at 1005. Frank appealed to this Court, and on November 23, 2005, this Court affirmed the Commission's dismissal of Frank's claim for additional disability compensation, while remanding for a determination of whether the amount Frank had been overpaid (during the period he had been awarded total permanent disability) could be offset against his subsequent medical costs that should have been paid by his employer, and for a determination of whether Frank was entitled to additional medical benefits. Id. at 132, 124 P.3d at 1008.

On remand the Commission found that the $10,633.25 that had been overpaid to Frank could be offset against Frank's subsequent reasonable medical expenses that his employer was liable for.*fn2 On September 12, 2007, the Commission issued its Order on Remand Re: Additional Medical Benefits, finding that Frank's employer was not liable for Frank's past or future medical insurance premiums, that Frank had incurred $15,412.66 in medical care costs which his employer was responsible for and that offsetting the amount Frank had been overpaid resulted in a balance owing to Frank in the amount of $4,779.41. The Commission denied Frank's requested attorney fees. Frank filed his notice of appeal before this Court on October 23, 2007.

Bunker Hill History

On January 14, 2010, the Commission issued its Order on Remand Re: Determination of Proper Parties, adding Bunker Limited Partnership ("BLP") to the captioning of the case. This was in resolution of long-standing confusion as to which entity owed Frank a duty as to his workers' compensation claims.

The Bunker Hill Company began doing business near Kellogg, Idaho, in the early 1900s and was acquired by Gulf Resources and Chemical Corporation ("Gulf") in a hostile takeover in 1968. Following the takeover, Bunker Hill was a wholly owned subsidiary of Gulf; this was the state of affairs at the time Frank's accident occurred.

In 1981, Bunker Hill shut down its Kellogg operations, and on November 1, 1982, BLP purchased substantially all of Bunker Hill's assets, including the name "The Bunker Hill Company" through an Asset Purchase Agreement. Part of the Asset Purchase Agreement included the assumption of workers' compensation claim liabilities, subject to a limiting provision that is not applicable here. Although BLP acquired the name and nearly all the assets of Bunker Hill, it did not obtain the company itself, which changed its name to Pintlar Corporation ("Pintlar"), and continued to be a wholly owned subsidiary of Gulf. Gulf, Pintlar and BLP all filed petitions in bankruptcy in the early 1990s. BLP's Plan of Reorganization was approved by the ...


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