11/15/2009 02:29:13 PM EST
FREE DOWNLOAD: Zuniga v. Radio Shack (Calif. WCAB panel decision) (attorney's fee; VRMA)
Raquel Zuniga v. Radio Shack
Attorney's Fees—Vocational Rehabilitation—WCAB rescinded WCJ's finding that attorney for applicant/saleswoman with 11/25/2001 right shoulder injury was not entitled to attorney's fee for services provided in connection with applicant's claim for vocational rehabilitation benefits and held, instead, that applicant's attorney was entitled to a fee equal to 15 percent of vocational rehabilitation maintenance allowance (VRMA) awarded by Rehabilitation Unit and that defendant was liable for payment of fee, when WCJ's denial of attorney's fees was based upon her finding that attorney's requested fee was inappropriate under Rocha v. Puccia Construction Co. (1982) 47 Cal. Comp. Cases 377 (Appeals Board en banc opinion) because it was equivalent to a percentage of applicant's VRMA award rather than based upon a showing of services performed and time spent, but WCAB found that (1) holding in Rocha did not expressly preclude award of attorney's fees based upon percentage of vocational rehabilitation benefits, but rather conditioned fee award upon showing of reasonableness given responsibility assumed by attorney, care exercised, time involved in obtaining benefits, and results achieved, (2) award of fees to applicant's attorney calculated as a percentage of VRMA benefits obtained by applicant would not be unreasonable, because applicant's attorney did not prolong vocational rehabilitation issues, (3) issue primarily addressed by attorney was applicant's entitlement to monetary benefits, and percentage-based fee award is consistent with fee awards for other species of benefits, and (4) defendant is liable for payment of attorney's fee as it failed to set aside any portion of VRMA award for attorney's fee, despite having knowledge that applicant was represented by counsel who was providing services to obtain vocational rehabilitation benefits, and knew or should have known to withhold money from distribution of VRMA award for attorney's fee. © Copyright 2009 LexisNexis. All rights reserved
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