LHWCA late payment award triggers attorneys’ fees

Monday, July 26, 2004
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled that, under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA), an employee who successfully prosecutes a claim for late payment of compensation is entitled to receipt of attorneys’ fees. In the instant case, the claimant and the employer settled the initial compensation claim. The employer was unable to deliver, within 10 days, to the claimant a payment of 20% of the total amount due, despite its alleged good faith effort. The claimant then sought and obtained a late payment award. The claimant then sought attorneys’ fees related to obtaining the late payment award. The employer argued that the late payment award was a penalty, not compensation, and that attorneys’ fees could only be awarded with regard to compensation matters. The court held that the late payment award was a monetary allowance payment and was more in the nature of compensation for the claimant than a penalty imposed on the employer. Newport News Shipbuilding v. Brown, No. 03-1480 (4th Cir.) (Source: HK Law)

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