When a Claim is Paid as a Result of a Crime Insurer Must Demand Restitution
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Montana Supreme Court Allows Restitution to Insurer
Sami Jo Lodahl (Lodahl) appealed an order sentencing her to pay restitution to the Montana State Fund (MSF) for benefits it paid to Sergeant Dawn Miller (Miller) from the Gallatin County Detention Center related to an on-the-job injury. Lodahl argues the MSF does not qualify as a “victim” requiring payment of the restitution amount, in essence, would cause her unjust hardship given her dire financial circumstances, and the court should have considered Miller’s alleged comparative negligence when awarding restitution. In State Of Montana v. Sami Jo Lodahl, 2021 MT 156, DA 19-0406, Supreme Court Of The State Of Montana (June 29, 2021) the Supreme Court found restitution was in order but that the the defendant was too poor to pay.
A correct decision on the law makes an important decision that an insurer is entitled to restitution from a criminal convicted of a crime that caused the insurer to pay money to its insured. It then, like Solomon, decided that the trial court erred requiring a poor woman to pay the restitution since it would make her life too difficult and replaced its judgment on ability to pay with that of the trial court that saw and heard the witnesses and evidence.