STAND. COM. REP. NO.  137-12


Honolulu, Hawaii

                , 2012


RE:   H.B. No. 2099





Honorable Calvin K.Y. Say

Speaker, House of Representatives

Twenty-Sixth State Legislature

Regular Session of 2012

State of Hawaii




     Your Committee on Labor & Public Employment, to which was referred H.B. No. 2099 entitled:




begs leave to report as follows:


     The purpose of this measure is to improve the efficiency of the workers' compensation system by allowing attorney's fees to be included in costs that may be assessed against a party who brings, prosecutes, or defends a workers' compensation claim without reasonable ground.


     The Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, ILWU Local 142, and several concerned individuals testified in support of this measure.  The Hawaii Insurers Council provided comments.


     Hawaii's workers' compensation law was established as a "no fault" type of system where injured workers were provided with medical insurance and wage loss coverage for work-related injuries while employers were protected from civil liability resulting from these injuries.  Unfortunately, due to the, at times, contentious nature of workers' compensation cases, claims and appeals proceedings are begun without reasonable grounds.  Under current law, if the Director of Labor and Industrial Relations, the Labor and Industrial Relations Appeals Board, or any court finds that the proceedings have been brought without reasonable grounds, the whole costs of the proceedings can be assessed against the party that initiated the proceedings.  However, a recent Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeals ruling found that whole costs did not include attorney's fees.  Your Committee finds that allowing reasonable attorney's fees to be assessed against a party who initiates baseless proceedings will help deter frivolous claims and appeals from being filed under Hawaii's workers' compensation system.


     As affirmed by the record of votes of the members of your Committee on Labor & Public Employment that is attached to this report, your Committee is in accord with the intent and purpose of H.B. No. 2099 and recommends that it pass Second Reading and be referred to the Committee on Economic Revitalization & Business.



Respectfully submitted on behalf of the members of the Committee on Labor & Public Employment,