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Ingebretson v. Louisiana-Pacific Corp.

Court of Workers Compensation of Montana

November 6, 1995

VERNON L. INGEBRETSON Petitioner
v.
LOUISIANA-PACIFIC CORPORATION Respondent/Insurer/Employer.

          ORDER GRANTING ATTORNEY FEES AND COSTS

          Mike McCarter Judge

         Summary: On several grounds, respondent disputed amount of attorney fees sought be claimant after Worker's Compensation Court's finding of unreasonable failure to pay TTD benefits was affirmed on appeal.

         Held: (1) Claimant's first attorney was entitled to fees even though representation was later assumed by other attorneys where the first attorney's work contributed to claimant's success and there is no allegation of duplicated effort. (2) Under section 39-71-614, MCA (1991), and regulations adopted by the Department of Labor and Industry, the maximum recovery for attorneys fees is $75. (3) Where ARM 24.29.3802(2) provides that an attorney representing a workers' compensation claimant shall submit a written attorney fee agreement to the DOL "within thirty days of undertaking representation of the claimant," no recovery is allowed for work performed more than 30 days prior to execution and submission of the fee agreement. (4) Claimant's attorneys were entitled to fees for the time spent in pursuing attorneys fees prior to remand of the case by the Supreme Court where that same effort went toward proving entitlement to a penalty, but fees were not allowed for time spent post-remand in establishing the amount of fees to be awarded by the Court.

         Topics:

Constitutions, Statutes, Regulations and Rules: Montana Code Annotated: section 39-71-614, MCA (1991). Claimant's first attorney was entitled to fees even though representation was later assumed by other attorneys where the first attorney's work contributed to claimant's success and there is no allegation of duplicated effort.
Constitutions, Statutes, Regulations and Rules: Montana Code Annotated: section 39-71-614, MCA (1991). Under section 39-71-614, MCA (1991), and regulations adopted by the Department of Labor and Industry, the maximum recovery for attorneys fees is $75.
Constitutions, Statutes, Regulations and Rules: Montana Code Annotated: section 39-71-614, MCA (1991). Where ARM 24.29.3802(2) provides that an attorney representing a workers' compensation claimant shall submit a written attorney fee agreement to the DOL "within thirty days of undertaking representation of the claimant," no recovery is allowed for work performed more than 30 days prior to execution and submission of the fee agreement.
Constitutions, Statutes, Regulations and Rules: Montana Code Annotated: section 39-71-614, MCA (1991). Claimant's attorneys were entitled to fees for the time spent in pursuing attorneys fees prior to remand of the case by the Supreme Court where that same effort went toward proving entitlement to a penalty, but fees were not allowed for time spent post-remand in establishing the amount of fees to be awarded by the Court.
Constitutions, Statutes, Regulations and Rules: Administrative Regulations (non-Workers' Compensation Court). Where ARM 24.29.3802(2) provides that an attorney representing a workers' compensation claimant shall submit a written attorney fee agreement to the DOL "within thirty days of undertaking representation of the claimant," no recovery is allowed for work performed more than 30 days prior to execution and submission of the fee agreement.
Attorney Fees: Amount. Under section 39-71-614, MCA (1991), and regulations adopted by the Department of Labor and Industry, the maximum recovery for attorneys fees is $75.
Attorney Fees: Cases Awarded. Claimant's first attorney was entitled to fees even though representation was later assumed by other attorneys where the first attorney's work contributed to claimant's success and there is no allegation of duplicated effort.
Attorney Fees: Cases Awarded. Claimant's attorneys were entitled to fees for the time spent in pursuing attorneys fees prior to remand of the case by the Supreme Court where that same effort went toward proving entitlement to a penalty, but fees were not allowed for time spent post-remand in establishing the amount of fees to be awarded by the Court.
Attorney Fees: Fee Agreement. Where ARM 24.29.3802(2) provides that an attorney representing a workers' compensation claimant shall submit a written attorney fee agreement to the DOL "within thirty days of undertaking representation of the claimant," no recovery is allowed for work performed more than 30 days prior to execution and submission of the fee agreement.

         In its Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Judgment issued December 14, 1994, this Court determined that claimant is entitled to reasonable attorney fees and costs in an amount to be determined at a later time. The basis of this finding is set forth in Conclusion of Law 5, as follows:

5. The Occupational Disease Act provides that the practice and procedures prescribed in the Workers' Compensation Act apply to occupational disease claims. § 39-72-402(1), MCA. Section 39-71-611, MCA, provides:
The insurer shall pay reasonable costs and attorney fees as established by the workers' compensation court if:
(a) the insurer denies liability for a claim for compensation or terminates ...

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