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                                 BRB No. 98-0949


COLEMAN McKOY                           )
                                        )
          Claimant-Respondent           )
                                        )
     v.                                 )
                                        )
INGALLS SHIPBUILDING,                   )    DATE ISSUED:   03/15/1999 

INCORPORATED                            )
                                        )
          Self-Insured                  )
          Employer-Petitioner           )    DECISION and ORDER

     Appeal of the Compensation Order-Award of Attorney's Fee of Chris J.
     Gleasman, District Director, United States Department of Labor.

     Traci M. Castille (Franke, Rainey & Salloum, PLLC), Gulfport,
     Mississippi, for self-insured employer.

     Before: HALL, Chief Administrative Appeals Judge, SMITH, Administrative
     Appeals Judge, and NELSON, Acting Administrative Appeals Judge.

     PER CURIAM:

     Employer appeals the Compensation Order-Award of Attorney's Fee (Case No. 7-142862) of District Director Chris J. Gleasman rendered on a claim filed pursuant
to the provisions of the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act, as
amended, 33 U.S.C. §901 et seq. (the Act).  The amount of an attorney's
fee award is discretionary and may be set aside only if the challenging party shows
it to be arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or not in accordance with
law. See, e.g., Muscella v. Sun Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co., 12 BRBS 272
(1980).

     Claimant's counsel sought an attorney's fee of $1,518.75, representing 10.125
hours of legal services performed at an hourly rate of $150, and $12.50 in
expenses, for work performed before the district director in connection with
claimant's hearing loss claim.  Having found that employer had not submitted any
formal objections to the fee petition, the district director, in his Compensation
Order, determined that employer was not liable for an attorney's fee for work
performed prior to the time the claim was filed on February 19, 1997, and thus,
reduced the hours sought by counsel to 5.375.  The district director thereafter
awarded claimant's counsel an attorney's fee of $806.25, representing 5.375 hours
of legal services performed at an hourly rate of $150.  Employer appeals the
district director's award, contending that it did in fact file objections to
claimant's counsel's attorney's fee petition, and requesting that the district
director's award be vacated.  Claimant has not filed a response brief in the
instant matter.

     Employer has attached to its brief a copy of its objections, dated February
5, 1998, to counsel's attorney's fee request, which the district director did not
consider in his March 27, 1998, Compensation Order.  It is well-established that
due process requires that a fee request be served on employer and that it be given
a reasonable time to respond to the request. See, e.g., Todd Shipyards Corp. v.
Director, OWCP, 545 F.2d 1176, 5 BRBS 23 (9th Cir. 1976); Codd v.
Stevedoring Services of America, 32 BRBS 143, 150 (1998); Devine v. Atlantic
Container Lines, G.I.E., 23 BRBS 279, 288 (1990)(Lawrence, J., dissenting on
other grounds).  Implicit in this requirement is that employer's objections to the
fee request must be considered.  Accordingly, as it appears that employer timely
filed a response to the fee request,  we vacate the district director's award of
an attorney's fee to claimant's counsel and remand the case for the district
director to consider employer's specific objections to counsel's attorney's fee
petition.[1] 

     Accordingly, the Compensation Order-Award of Attorney's Fee is vacated, and
the case is remanded for reconsideration consistent with this opinion. 

     SO ORDERED.



                                                                   
                         BETTY JEAN HALL, Chief
                         Administrative Appeals Judge



                                                                   
                         ROY P.  SMITH
                         Administrative Appeals Judge



                                                                   
                         MALCOLM D.  NELSON, Acting
                         Administrative Appeals Judge

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Footnotes.


1)Inasmuch as the district director did not consider employer's objections below, we decline to address employer's substantive contentions. Back to Text

NOTE: This is an UNPUBLISHED LHCA Document.

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