If you are a contractor who has been injured on the job while working overseas in Iraq, Afghanistan or on any military base across the world, your case is covered by the Defense Base Act which is an extension of the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. At the Law Offices of Gillis, Mermell & Pacheco, P.A., we have a combination of over 43 years of experience in representing injured workers covered by the Defense Base Act and the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. Let us put our years of experience and our reputation to work for you today! Contact us today at mail@gmpcomplaw.com, or go on our website at www.dbalawyers.com and fill out our form on the contact us page, or call us at 305 595 3350.

Here are some very interesting facts and case summaries regarding attorney’s fees in a DBA or Longshore case coming directly from the Longshore Deskbook from the Benefits Review Board. The Longshore Desk Book is a searchable website which is a public record. According to the Longshore Deskbook:

Claimant’s attorney is entitled to a fee only upon successful prosecution of a claim. Clophus v. Amoco Production Co., 21 BRBS 261 (1988); Wilhelm v. Seattle Stevedore Co., 15 BRBS 432 (1983); Director, OWCP v. Hemingway Transport, Inc., 1 BRBS 73 (1974). Thus, claimant must establish entitlement to some form of relief in order for his attorney to receive any fee.

 The Board has held the term “compensation” as used in Section 28 is a generic term encompassing all forms of relief potentially available under the Act, including medical and surgical benefits, pecuniary compensation for injury, and death benefits. Timmons v. Jacksonville Shipyards, Inc., 2 BRBS 125 (1975).

 Section 28 authorizes the assessment of an attorney’s fee against the employer under specific circumstances, 33 U.S.C. §928(a), (b), and against the claimant as a lien on his compensation, 33 U.S.C. §928(c). The Special Fund can never be held liable for claimant’s attorney’s fee under Section 28. Director, OWCP v. Alabama Dry Dock & Shipbuilding Co., 672 F.2d 847, 14 BRBS 669 (11th Cir. 1982); Holliday v. Todd Shipyards Corp., 654 F.2d 415, 13 BRBS 741 (5th Cir. 1981); Director, OWCP v. Robertson, 625 F.2d 873, 12 BRBS 550 (9th Cir. 1980); Still v. Todd Pacific Shipyards, 14 BRBS 890 (1982). Costs may be recovered from employer where it is liable for a fee pursuant to Section 28(d).

 Subsections (a) and (b) providing for employer liability for claimant’s counsel’s fee create an exception to the American Rule under which a party is liable for his own attorney’s fees. Employer cannot be held liable unless the requirements of Section 28(a) or (b) are met. See, e.g. R.S. [Simons] v. Virginia Int’l Terminals, 42 BRBS 11 (2008) (holding statutory requirements are not met and rejecting claimant’s contention that employer should be held liable for his attorney’s fees pursuant to FRCP 11(c)).

If you have a question about attorney’s fees or any other question in your DBA or Longshore case, Contact Us today at mail@gmpcomplaw.com, or go on our website at www.dbalawyers.com and fill out our form on the contact us page, or call us at 305 595 3350.

Clifford R. Mermell, Esq.

Clifford R. Mermell, Esq., created the law firm of Gillis, Mermell & Pacheco, P.A. on March 1, 1996. Mr. Mermell has been the senior and managing partner of the firm since its creation. The firm was created to champion the rights of injured workers nationwide. It represents cases under the Worker’s Compensation, Wrongful Termination, Personal Injury, Admiralty and Maritime, Defense Base Act, and Longshore & Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act Laws.


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