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The Supreme Court of Minnesota held that the attorney fee statute applicable in workers’ compensation cases, Minn. Stat. § 176.081, subd. 1(a) (2012), does not violate the separation of powers by requiring employers and insurers to pay attorney fees calculated by a statutory formula not subject to judicial review. The Court observed that in an earlier decision, Irwin v. Surdyk’s Liquor, 599 N.W.2d 132, 134 (Minn. 1999), it had held that a statutory maximum on an attorney fee award violated the separation of powers because there was no final judicial review of that award, but here the issue was different; the attorney-fee award was less than the statutory maximum. The employer and carrier contended that in the absence of judicial review to ensure a fee award was not excessive, the statutory formula violated the separation of powers and was unconstitutional. The Court concluded that, as a matter of comity, it would recognize the Legislature's statutory formula as presumptively reasonable, and that absent exceptional circumstances, further judicial review of a presumptively reasonable, correctly calculated attorney-fee award was unnecessary.
Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the Feature National Columnist for the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation eNewsletter, is a leading commentator and expert on the law of workers’ compensation.
LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance. Bracketed citations link to lexis.com.
See David v. Bartel Enters., 2014 Minn. LEXIS 636 (Nov. 26, 2014) [2014 Minn. LEXIS 636 (Nov. 26, 2014)]
See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 133.04 [133.04]
Source: Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the nation’s leading authority on workers’ compensation law.
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