In local news:

The 3rd Circuit issued a decision last week in an “unusual case” regarding the statutory provisions governing appropriate attorney’s fees withheld from workers’ comp settlements. In Marvin Tellis v. Ash Timber Company, Tellis was contesting the amount that his attorney took from his $50,000 cash settlement with his employer, which settled the indemnity portion of his claim only. Tellis’ attorney listed “Statutory Attorney Fee (20% of $202,187.48) = $40,437.49” in the settlement documents without an explanation as to how those figures were reached. Tellis then retained another attorney to represent him in disputing the withholdings. The workers’ comp judge ruled that the fee was inappropriate and ordered its return in entirety to the claimant. On appeal, the 3rd Circuit upheld the WCJ’s ruling, explaining in part:

“…the settlement of the indemnity portion of Claimant’s workers’ compensation claim was approved on October 15, 2014. [The claimant’s original attorney] did not file his Motion to Determine Attorney’s Fees (which was filed in response to Claimant’s correspondence with him questioning the appropriateness of the fee amount) until January 16, 2015, which is well past the thirty day period set forth in La.R.S. 23:1143(B)(2) […] he also argues that the settlement of Claimant’s indemnity benefits did not constitute a “settlement” as meant in La.R.S. 23:1143. We disagree. [He] sought judicial approval of the settlement and attempted to withhold a fee from the settlement proceeds.”

Read the case here: LA 3rd Circuit Tellis v. Ash Timber

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