DeRice v. S.D. Warren Co.

694 A.2d 450 (1997)

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DeRice v. S.D. Warren Co.

Maine Supreme Judicial Court
694 A.2d 450 (1997)

Facts

Prior to 1993, Donald DeRice and Deborah Howard (collectively, the employees) (plaintiffs) suffered injuries during their employment with S. D. Warren Co. and Pratt & Whitney, respectively (collectively, the employers) (defendants). After 1993, the employees filed petitions with the Workers’ Compensation Board (the board) seeking workers’ compensation. The petitions went to mediation. The employers were represented by counsel during mediation. The employees filed motions for attorney’s fees, a portion of which were for services prior to mediation. The board found the employers responsible for paying attorneys’ fees for services prior to mediation because the employers were represented at mediation, and mediation had replaced the previously used informal conferences. The employers appealed, arguing that employees injured prior to 1993 were not entitled to attorney’s fees for services prior to the date of mediation pursuant to § 325(5) of Title 39-A, the Maine Workers’ Compensation Act of 1992 (effective Jan. 1, 1993). The employers further argued that mediation and informal conferences were distinct and that the board’s interpretation was inconsistent with the plain meaning of the statute.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Wathen, C.J.)

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