Injured Workers Association of Utah v State

Association filed s declaratory judgment action seeking a declaration that the attorney fee schedule for workers compensation claimants was unconstitutional. The district court granted judgment to the State. The Court, with one justice concurring part, reversed. It held that under the 1985 revision to the Utah Constitution, regulation of the practice of law is exclusively vested in the Court, that attorney fees are part of legal practice that have been regulated by the Court for decades and the fee schedule and the statute authorizing it are thus a violations of the separation of powers. It held that Court precedent had left this issue open and to the extent the precedent allowed fee schedules in workers compensation cases, it was overruled. Three justices addressed whether or not to establish a fee schedule but decline to do so as the schedule in place disincentivized attorneys from taking cases and incentivized hem to settle for amounts which reach the cap on fees and these features have led almost al Utah attorneys to refuse workers compensation claims. The majority also held the Utah rule on reasonable attorney fees applied, is enforced by the ethics office and will protect claimants. Justice Lee concurred in part arguing the discussion of a fee schedule was unnecessary as no party asked for one to be created.