Sheneman v. Division of Worker's Safety

In Sheneman v. Division of Worker's Safety, 962 P.2d 874 (Wyo. 1998), the employee sought review by the district court of an order of the Internal Hearing Unit of the Workers' Compensation and Safety Division that denied the relief sought by the employee. The district court affirmed the decision. The district court also denied a request for attorney fees for representation of the employee in the district court appeal. The Court affirmed denial of attorney fees on the basis that an award of attorney fees was not authorized by Wyo. Stat. Ann. 27-14-615 because: "No benefits were at issue in the review of the final order by the IHU that Sheneman sought in the district court. The only issue was whether Sheneman had made a timely filing of his objection to the Final Determination of the Division of Worker's Safety and Compensation, Department of Employment and a request for a hearing. The district court correctly determined that no attorney's fees were authorized pursuant to statute because no benefits were at issue in the review sought by Sheneman. The plain and unambiguous language of WYO. STAT. 27-14-615 forecloses Sheneman's claim for attorney's fees." (Sheneman, 962 P.2d at 876.) The Court based the decision in Sheneman on an interpretation of that portion of Wyo. Stat. Ann. 27-14-615 which states, "an award of attorney's fees shall be for a reasonable number of hours and shall not exceed the benefits at issue in the appeal." In Sheneman the Court noted that, "the plain language of this statute limits an award of attorney's fees to the benefits at issue in the appeal." Sheneman, 962 P.2d at 876.