Dennis v. School District #91, 081399 IDWC, IC 94-862892

Docket Nº:IC 94-862892
Case Date:August 13, 1999
STATE INSURANCE FUND Surety, Defendants.
No. IC 94-862892
Idaho Workers Compensation
Before The Industrial Commission Of The State Of Idaho
August 13, 1999
          ORDER GRANTING RECONSIDERATION           Rachel S. Gilbert, Chairman          In its order dated February 12, 1999, the Commission awarded attorney’s fees to Claimant based on the Defendants’ unreasonable failure to pay permanent disability benefits in the amount of 17% beyond impairment. Defendants filed a motion to reconsider the award of attorney’s fees on March 2, 1999. The parties thereafter filed additional briefs and legal arguments regarding their respective positions on this issue.          Defendants contend attorney’s fees are not appropriate because they reasonably relied on substantial and competent evidence. Defendants further maintain that to award attorney’s fees would unduly penalize them for reasonably disputing the contention of Claimant.          In its prior order, the Commission found the Defendants’ expert opined Claimant suffered disability beyond impairment in the amount of 17%. Therefore, the Commission found the Defendants unreasonably withheld payment beyond 19% impairment.          On reconsideration of this issue, the Commission finds the facts of this case do not warrant an award of atorney’s fees pursuant to Idaho Code § 72-804. The extent of Claimant’s disability was clearly at issue, and the parties took widely varying positions on the issue of disability. Claimant presented evidence that she was unable to perform any work whatsoever. Defendants presented evidence that she could perform light duty tasks, and was not totally disabled. Defendants’ final brief urged the Commission to award no more than 36% permanent partial disability inclusive of impairment.          The evidence was conflicting. As a result, until the extent of disability was finally resolved, the nature of Defendants’ position was merely an argument and not an admission of ultimate responsibility. Even though this Commission does find it concerning that Defendants would not begin payment of...

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