Shirrod v. OWCP

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Attorney Fees
  • Date Filed: 12-31-2015
  • Case #: 13-70613
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Bea for the Court; Circuit Judge Tashima and District Judge Burns
  • Full Text Opinion

When calculating attorney’s fees under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, the relevant community billing rate is determined based on city where the litigation took place.

Richard Shirrod was employed by Pacific Rim Environmental Resources, LLC (Pacific Rim) and received permanent injuries while working on their barge-refitting project. An administrative law judge (ALJ), relying on the Altman Weil Survey, awarded Shirrod $33,581.17 in attorney’s fees for his workers’-compensation claim, relying on the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act). The Benefits Review Board affirmed the ALJ’s award and Pacific Rim appealed. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit granted review. The panel determined that while awarding attorney fees is allowed under the Act, the ALJ summation was incorrect as it did not reflect market rates in the “relevant community”—Portland, Oregon. Since the Altman Weil Survey represented Oregon rates rather than Portland specifically, and since the billable rates of Portland workers’-compensation attorneys was readily available, the panel vacated the award and remanded it for re-calculation using Portland rates as the “relevant community” rather than Oregon generally. PETITION FOR REVIEW GRANTED; VACATED and REMANDED.

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