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Workforce Safety and Insurance and Bobcat Company v. Cynthia Auck

May 13, 2011

WORKFORCE SAFETY AND INSURANCE AND BOBCAT COMPANY,
RESPONDENTS AND APPELLEES
v.
CYNTHIA AUCK,
CLAIMANT AND APPELLANT



Appeal from the District Court of Burleigh County, South Central Judicial District, the Honorable Donald L. Jorgensen, Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Crothers, Justice.

N.D. Supreme CourtWorkforce Safety & Insurance v. Auck, 2011 ND 93 This opinion is subject to petition for rehearing. [Go to Documents]

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AFFIRMED.

Opinion of the Court by Crothers, Justice.

Workforce Safety & Insurance v. Auck

No. 20100330

[¶1] Cynthia Auck appeals the district court's order finding Workforce Safety and Insurance ("WSI") and Bobcat Company acted with substantial justification when refusing to pay death benefits to her, precluding an award of attorney fees under section 28-32-50, N.D.C.C. We affirm.

I

[¶2] This is the second time these parties are before this Court. The first time, WSI and Bobcat appealed the district court's judgment affirming the Administrative Law Judge's ("ALJ") order reversing WSI's denial of death benefits to Cynthia Auck, the surviving spouse of Richard Auck. We affirmed the district court's judgment. Workforce Safety & Ins. v. Auck ("Auck I"), 2010 ND 126, 785 N.W.2d 186.

[¶3] On July 14, 2010, Cynthia Auck filed a petition with the district court seeking attorney fees and costs under section 28-32-50, N.D.C.C. The district court held a hearing and denied Cynthia Auck's request for attorney fees, finding WSI and Bobcat's position was substantially justified with reasonable, factual and legal support. Cynthia Auck appeals.

II

[¶4] Cynthia Auck argues the district court abused its discretion because WSI and Bobcat's decision to continue to appeal the ALJ's decision was unreasonable. WSI and Bobcat assert the district court did not abuse its discretion because their position was substantially justified. We conclude the court did not abuse its discretion.

[¶5] "The determination whether the agency acted with substantial justification is discretionary with the district court, and we will overturn the district court's decision only if it abused its discretion." Dutton v. Workforce Safety & Ins., 2010 ND 99, ¶ 13, 783 N.W.2d 278. A district court abuses its discretion "when it acts in an arbitrary, capricious, or unreasonable manner." Lamplighter Lounge, Inc. v. State ex rel. ...


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