TARRANT COUNTY, FORT WORTH LITIGATION–TEXAS ATTORNEY FEES CLAIM
Awarded In SIBs Case Where Claimant Prevails On Subsequent Quarters
Liberty Mutual Ins. Co. v. Montana, 2001 WL 667826 (Tex.App.-Fort Worth) June 14, 2001
This was a workers’ compensation defense case in Fort Worth, Texas. The Texas Workers’ Compensation Commission determined that the Claimant was entitled to SIBs for the first quarter. Thereafter, the Carrier disputed entitlement to the sixth and seventh quarters. Claimant lost the sixth and seventh quarters of SIBs before the HO and the Appeals Panel (AP), but won in a jury trial. The Carrier appealed the trial court’s award of attorney fees. The company insurance attorneys in this Fort Worth case argued that the Texas statutes did not allow Claimant to recover.
The Carrier contends that because the Commission did not find entitlement to these quarters, it should not be liable for attorney fees since §408.147(c) says fees are awarded to a successful claimant when “an insurance carrier disputes a Commission determination” of entitlement.
The Court reviewed AP decisions and found them to be consistent with the plain meaning of the statute, determining that the statute authorizes an award of attorney fees in any case where the Commission initially awards SIBs and the carrier later disputes that award as long as the employee eventually prevails on any disputed issue.
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