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SAIF v. DeLeon

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 06-28-2012
Case #: S059509
Walters, J. for the Court; Balmer, C.J.; Durham, J.; De Muniz, J.; Walters, J.; Kistler, J.; Landau, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/Publications/S059509.pdf

Attorney Fees: Under ORS 656.382(2), when a claimant obtains an award of attorney fees and the insurer initiates a review, it is the final decision and tribunal that determines whether the award should be disallowed or reduced.

DeLeon appealed the Court of Appeals' reversal of a grant of attorney fees. DeLeon filed for workers’ compensation benefits for a work-related injury. After the final review by the Workers' Compensation Board (Board), DeLeon was awarded 11% permanent partial disability as well as attorney fees, paid by the insurer, for services before the ALJ, who rendered a decision against DeLeon. SAIF sought reconsideration of the fee award, and the Court of Appeals reversed the Board’s decision. SAIF argued that the fee is only awarded if the insurer was unsuccessful in the requested review; SAIF’s requested review by the ALJ was successful. The Supreme Court interprets ORS 656.382(2) as stating when a claimant obtains an award of attorney fees and an insurer initiates a review, it is the final tribunal that determines whether the award should be disallowed or reduced. Reversed.