(c) 2018 Jon L Gelman, All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

When A Judge Says “Appeal Me” and Commits Reversible Error

A judge of compensation must include in its decision the reasonable basis for reaching a conclusion.

The New Jersey Appellate Court, in a per curium, unreported ruling, reversed the decision of a New Jersey judge of compensation who awarded a reduced counsel fee of 15% of the total award without explanation. The two-judge appellate tribunal held that the judge of compensation appeared to be “antagonistic” to injured worker’s attorney when the attorney asked the hearing officer for an explanation of the fee reduction.

The customary counsel fee award in NJ workers’ compensation matters, is a statutory limit of 20%.

When the attorney asked the judge of compensation for an explanation of the fee reduction on the record, the stated, “Appeal me,” and marched off the bench without making further comment.

The attorney appealed the judge, and the appellate court reversed and remanded the case back to the judge of compensation for further explanation on the record.

Pallotta v United Airlines 2018 WL 3040346 DOCKET NO. A-4959-16T2 (Decided June 20, 2018)

This opinion shall not “constitute precedent or be binding upon any court.” Although it is posted on the internet, this opinion is binding only on the parties in the case and its use in other cases is limited. R. 1:36-3. Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division.

Jon L. Gelman of Wayne NJ is the author of NJ Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thomson-Reuters) and co-author of the national treatise, Modern Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thomson-Reuters).
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