Under LHWCA, Excusable Neglect Standard Applies to Late Filed Attorney Fee Petition

The Ninth Circuit has ruled that the excusable neglect standard applies to late filed attorney fee petitions under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA), 33 U.S.C. §901, et seq. In Iopa v. Saltchuk-Young Brothers, No. 17-70415 (March 4, 2019), the court affirmed a decision of the Benefits Review Board, which in turn had affirmed Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Richard M. Clark’s dismissal of counsel’s attorney fee petition for being untimely. Judge Clark had awarded benefits under the Act to Iopa in a Decision and Order dated July 31, 2014. He directed counsel to file his fee petition within 21 days of service. Almost a year later, on June 8, 2015, counsel filed a fee petition, but it was for work performed before the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP). Counsel filed a corrected fee petition on October 27, 2015. Judge Clark struck the first petition because he had no authority to consider work performed before OWCP,…

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