Appeal of Metevier

767 A.2d 427 (2001)

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Appeal of Metevier

New Hampshire Supreme Court
767 A.2d 427 (2001)

Facts

In November 1995, Pat Metevier (plaintiff) was injured during her employment at Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (Wal-Mart). Metevier filed for workers’-compensation benefits, but Wal-Mart and its workers’-compensation carrier, AIG Claim Services, Inc. (AIG) (defendants), denied the request. Metevier petitioned the New Hampshire Department of Labor for a hearing, but the Department of Labor denied her benefits. Metevier appealed to the compensation appeals board (the board). Four months prior to the board hearing, Metevier hired James Townsend to represent her, who had experience in workers’-compensation cases and more than 25 years of legal experience. The board found that Metevier was entitled to payment of medical bills and temporary total-disability benefits. Townsend requested attorney’s fees for twenty and one-half hours at $175.00 per hour. The board approved the hours of work, but it reduced the rate to $130.00 per hour, finding that the case was within a normal average of cases and the range of approved rates was $120.00 to $150.00 per hour. However, the commissioner of the Department of Labor (the commissioner) did not adopt a scale of fees with this range of rates. Metevier filed a motion for reconsideration of the fees, but it was denied by the board. Metevier appealed, arguing that the board did not consider the standing and skill of her attorney and the extent to which he prevailed, and that the board lacked the authority to set a range of approved rates.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Dalianis, J.)

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