Friday, September 10, 2021
Fee Flee Leaves Law Firm Stuck
The South Carolina Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of a suit brought by a law firm alleging that the Workers Compensation Commission had failed to protect its fee interest
In its complaint, KCC alleged the following set of facts. On July 31, 2007, Bruce Nadolny retained KCC to represent him in a worker's compensation claim against AVX Corporation and Liberty Mutual Insurance Company. KCC, on behalf of Nadolny, entered into mediation on his claim. From that mediation, Nadolny agreed to accept a $120,000 settlement. The day after mediation, Nadolny informed KCC he no longer needed its representation, and KCC was relieved as counsel. KCC informed Nadolny that it had expended multiple hours and expenses working on his case and would file a claim for attorney's fees.
The law firm alleged that it notified the workers compensation commission of its claim but nonetheless
On November 3, 2016, the Commission approved the settlement to Nadolny's widow without notifying KCC of the hearing. KCC alleged Nadolny's widow moved out of South Carolina after receiving the settlement.
KCC asserts the Commission was negligent, reckless, and willful...
In response the Commission asserted governmental immunity.
The circuit court agreed and here
KCC argues the circuit court erred in finding the Commission was immune under the Act. KCC asserts the Commission's failure to notify KCC of the hearing was a ministerial act and therefore neither the Act nor judicial immunity immunized the Commission. We find the issue of whether the Commission's alleged action or inaction was ministerial is not preserved for appellate review.
In its response to the Commission's motion to dismiss, KCC asserted the Commission was not immune because the Commission's act was not a judicial or quasi-judicial act because it was simple negligence. KCC did not raise the issue of whether the Commission's act was a ministerial act—and thus an exception to the Act's immunity—until its Rule 59(e), SCRCP, motion.
Thus waiving that issue on appeal.
The court further rejected the law firm's claimed due process violations. (Mike Frisch)