In a recent post, we discussed Chavez v. Stokes, 2015 Opinion No. 64 (July 7, 2015), and the new standard of review governing the reasonableness of medical treatment in workers’ compensation cases. Chavez is also noteworthy for another reason: the Idaho Supreme Court granted attorney fees on appeal to the respondent worker because the employer’s appeal, in the Court’s mind, simply requested that it reweigh the evidence and reach a different conclusion than the Commission.
It must be noted that the basis of the award was Idaho Code § 72-804, which states that the employer shall pay reasonable attorney fees if the Court determines the employer contested a worker’s claim for compensation “without reasonable ground.” But it appears the Court is more willing of late to award attorney fees on appeal if it believes an appeal is only a request for the Court to reweigh the evidence. For instance, in February 2015, the Court awarded attorney fees on appeal under Idaho Code § 12-121 on that basis in a condemnation action. See State of Idaho v. Grathol, 2015 Opinion No. 17 (Feb. 11, 2015).