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Insurer failed to prove cause of guard’s fall unexplained

By Louise Escola

A workers compensation insurer failed to prove that a security guard’s fall that resulted in a hospital treatment for a brain injury was “idiopathic,” or unexplained, the Workers’ Compensation Court of Montana ruled Tuesday in denying a summary judgment to the insurer.

Margie Dargin fell during her shift as an Allied Universal employee providing security for an oil refinery in Billings, Montana. She has no recollection of how she fell or what happened after her fall, which caused her to be hospitalized for a week, according to documents in Margie Dargin v. XL Insurance of America, filed in Helena.

Ms. Dargin suffered a head injury along with a seizure in the time following her fall. A doctor “stated that it was her opinion that Dargin did not fall as a result of a seizure” and “opined that Dargin ‘somehow had a head injury’ and that she was suffering from post-concussive syndrome,” court documents state.

A second doctor commented that Ms. Dargin’s history is “incomplete” and was therefore unable to state whether she had a pre-existing condition that could cause her to have a seizure and fall, or whether a head injury caused the brain condition leading to the seizure post-fall, according to documents.

XL Insurance, which denied her claim on the basis that she fell on a level surface, moved for summary judgment before the state Workers’ Compensation Court, arguing that the cause of the fall was not “arising out of” her employment in accordance with state law, according to documents.

The court ruled that the insurer, meanwhile, failed to prove the fall was idiopathic, writing that XL Insurance “did not meet its burden of establishing that there are no issues of material fact as to whether Dargin suffered an idiopathic fall onto a level surface” and that “it is not entitled to summary judgment on those grounds.”

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