Archive for July, 2015

China Mechanizing Factories; Why Not California?

July 31st, 2015 No comments

Hello dear readers!  Given that my beloved followers are my one source for unloading the insanity that comes with being a workers’ comp defense attorney, I thought I’d take this opportunity to share a dream I had recently.  Now, now, you’ve already started reading, your coffee is still cooling, don’t go anywhere!

In my dream, everywhere I went, jobs and labor were replaced with machines.  This is the pre-Skynet stage, so all the robots were still friendly.  Job after job after job was done by machine, and the few human jobs left were focused on designing, maintaining, and supervising the machines.  There were no work injuries (coincidentally, I was out of a job).

I woke up in a cold sweat – but who would pay for doctors’ vacation homes and applicant attorneys’ Teslas?

I bring you then, the news fresh out of China (like just about everything on store shelves these days), that one factory has replaced 600 employees with robots, resulting in a workforce of 60, but, as a result, has tripled production and seen a reduction in defective products from 25% to 5%.

China and her Asian neighbors are often destinations for production because of a variety of reasons – among them, cheap labor.  In years past, Apple has been accused of running practical slave labor camps for the production of its products.

Now, your humble blogger just has to ask the question – if a country with a ridiculously low-cost of labor finds enough economic incentive to mechanize its work force, why wouldn’t a country (or even a state, hint hint) find a similar financial incentive?  Why go through labor disputes, workers’ compensation claims and insurance, and human error when machines could be working round the clock?  Why not limit your employees to highly educated and/or skilled employees who would be such high earners that attempting to defraud the workers’ compensation system would result in a net loss even if successful?

Here’s another question for you – California is a hotbed of conflict between new technology and old laws.  Regulation governing the day-to-day of the Flintstones is difficult to apply to the world of the Jetsons.

jestons flintstons

Going forward, how should California’s workers’ compensation laws adjust to be better suited to an increasingly high-tech and robot-based industry?  As awesome as it would be to depose a robot, I’m thinking more along the lines that laws focused on heavy manual labor, with resulting injuries and needs of human workers might gradually become less and less relevant.

What do you think, dear readers?  Should we all enjoy the beach while the robots work and litigate their own injuries?

robot pain

Have a great weekend!

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2 Vouchers For 2 Injuries

July 29th, 2015 No comments

Your humble blogger once went on a cruise.  After attending an event about what a great idea is to pre-purchase my next 35 years of cruising, I was handed a drink voucher.  On my way out of the “presentation” I was handed another drink voucher.  And then I thought to myself – what could be better in life than getting not one, but TWO vouchers?!?

Consider, then, the case of Silva v. LSG Sky Chefs, a recent panel decision that was covered extensively and very well by the good folks over at Lexis.  I won’t rehash the details, only that the AME in this case found applicant sustained two injuries – a CT rating to 25% and a specific rating to 30% PD.  The WCJ awarded two (count em!) supplemental job displacement benefit vouchers, one for each injury.

The defendant balked at having to help applicant open a computer lab, and so appealed.  In affirming the WCJ, the appeals board stated that the plain reading of the relevant statutes, namely Labor Code section 4658.5(b) and Regulation 10133.56 both refer to “the injury,” suggesting that a voucher should be awarded for each qualifying injury.

Thus spake the commissioners: “Defendant has provided no relevant authority to the contrary.”

Having seen the proverbial gauntlet dropped before the feet of the collective defense community, your humble blogger wanted to take a crack at answering the challenge.


Sadly, I could find no authority, much like the commissioners pointed out, that would support the contention that applicant is entitled to only one voucher.  However, although I came away without citeable authority, I did craft an argument or two that some brave soul might try, running the risk of being laughed out of the hearing room and right into a straight jacket, of course.

Initially, I would point out that not every injury results I a voucher – the only injuries resulting in a voucher are those that cause permanent disability and for which the employer cannot offer regular, modified, or alternative work.  (Labor Code section 4658.6)  Let’s also not forget the case of Del Taco v. WCAB, Gutierrez, wherein the Court of Appeal held that “[a]n injured employee is not entitled to vocational rehabilitation benefits where the employee is unable to return to work solely because of immigration status.”  In other words, even when there is an injury (or more than one injury) and there is permanent disability, the worker might not get the voucher.

So, how does the employer know it can offer regular, modified, or alternative work?  By the work restrictions imposed by the physician preparing the report, of course!  However, while Labor Code section 4663 provides that “[a]ny physician who prepares a report addressing the issue of permanent disability due to a claimed industrial injury shall in that report address the issue of causation of the permanent disability,” your humble blogger is aware of no such requirement with respect to work restrictions.

And, come on folks – that makes sense!  “Ok doctor, you say Mr. Applicant can’t lift more than 20 pounds.  How many pounds can he NOT lift because of injury 1; how many pounds can he NOT lift because of injury 2; and how many pounds can he NOT lift because of a synergy of the two?”  Well, even the most learned doctor would probably say “ugh… potato?”

chevy chase no math

Work restrictions are naturally intermingled to the point where one can’t parse them out – permanent disability is not.

Accordingly, the Legislature did not provide a framework for allowing the employer to make an offer for the permanent restrictions based on one of the injuries, but not the other, because, your humble blogger humbly submits to you, the intent was never to have multiple vouchers for the same person at the same time, especially for injuries that temporally overlap.

Turning, by comparison, to the morbid, your humble blogger has a bit of a stretch of an analogy for you:

Take a glance at Labor Code section 4701: “If an injury causes death, either with or without disability, the employer shall be liable, in addition to any other benefits provided by this division … [r]easonable expenses of the employee’s burial …”

An applicant can sustained a cumulative trauma and a specific injury, or even two injuries, with two dates of injury relatively close to each other, and both contribute to the applicant’s death (think of a person working in a factory breathing in harmful fumes causing serious lung damage, only to suffer smoke inhalation as a result of a fire on a specific day – a doctor could opine that both the cumulative breathing of fumes and the specific inhalation of smoke “caused” in part, the death of the injured worker).  Or, a worker performing desk duty while healing a leg broken during a fall at work just a month earlier is unable to escape the building during a fire and his (and his family’s) attorney argues the two injuries, together “caused” his death.

If each injury, in part, “causes” the death, should the injured worker be provided with two burial expenses of up to $10,000, for injuries occurring on or after January 1, 2013? (LC 4701(a)(3).)  I would think not, but then again, I’m just a humble blogger.

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Online QME Request Videos Are Up!

July 22nd, 2015 No comments

Do you love the panel process? Do you hate computers? Are you ready to be frustrated to the point of filing a psyche claim, only to be forced to submit a panel request online and thereby enter into a vicious cycle of litigation and psychosis?  GOOD NEWS! The DWC has posted online tutorials on how to submit panel requests online!

Starting October 1, 2015, represented parties will be able to submit their panel requests online.  Although the form is not available yet – you can check it out here.

The frustrating thing is that unrepresented workers are currently barred from using the online panel form.  On the bright side, since all represented claims will now be processed online and immediately, the Medical Unit should be able to, very quickly, turn these panel requests around and get unrepresented injured workers their panels.

Now, we’re delving into your humble blogger’s wicked little fantasies here, but you know what your humble blogger would like to see on unrepresented panel requests?  A declaration, under penalty of perjury, that the undersigned “is not being represented, advised, or counseled by any attorney, hearing representative, or law firm with respect to the submission of this panel request or the selection of any panel Qualified Medical Evaluators therefrom.”

Why? Why, indeed.

Labor Code section 4062.1, which governs unrepresented worker panel requests, allows the party submitting the panel request form to designate the panel specialty, but gives the worker a 10-day head-start.  This means that there’s no race to the Medical Unit, and there’s also no debate about which panel specialty should control if two panel requests are received on the same day.  Likewise, section 4062.1 allows the unrepresented worker to select a PQME from the panel, without engaging in the strike process.  I will remind you, dear readers, that the Legislature afforded no such benefits to defendants for starving their attorneys of billable hours.

So, what’s to stop an applicant’s attorney from informally advising an injured worker, guiding him or her to request a panel in a litigation-oriented specialty, rather than a medically appropriate one, and also guiding him or her to select the PQME most likely to be persuaded by impairment-inflating arguments, such as Almaraz-Guzman based inquiries?

Well, don’t look to the California Rules of Court for help – Rule 3.37(a), although on its face limited to civil proceedings, holds that “an attorney who contracts with a client to draft or assist in drafting legal documents, but not to make an appearance in the case, is not required to disclose within the text of the documents that he or she was involved in preparing the documents.”  So, an attorney could, informally and for “free” help an injured worker through this process, and then notice his or her representation after the first evaluation.

Admittedly, your humble blogger is a bit of a cynic and is probably a little bit paranoid… but you could see how this plays out, right?  Guys? Come on…

Anyway, barring technical difficulties (and the litigation those difficulties will undoubtedly cause), we’re about to start the streamlined panel request process.  Mark your calendars, dear readers.

Remember folks, that “the Medical Unit will not accept or process panel requests on the QME Form 106 postmarked after September 3, 2015…” (New section 30(b).)

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Subjective Perception of Stress Sufficient for Stroke to be Industrial

July 20th, 2015 No comments

Hello dear readers!  Your humble blogger welcomes you, once more, with this question: do you ever get stressed at your job?  Do you ever get tired from work?  Do you ever think your employees are looking at your… WITH THEIR EYES?!?  Once, a co-worker stopped by your humble blogger’s office and asked if I wanted a glass of water.  When our eyes met, I KNEW that what he was really saying is that he wants me to drown…

Crazy, no?  I’m so glad I have my readers to vent to… especially those that haven’t figured out how the “unsubscribe” button on their e-mails works.

Anywho, I bring you the case of Banuelos v. Acorn Engineering Co., a recent writ-denied case.  All kidding aside, applicant had suffered a pretty serious stroke, which he claimed was the result of stress at work.  Defendant argued that it was error for the WCJ to find industrial causation.

By way of factual background, applicant polished 7-8 tubs per day, and would help co-workers meet their quotas when he was done with his.  Apparently, he felt a lot of pressure and stress from the demands of the job, and, although he was never threatened with any sort of employment consequences himself, feared punishment as he had seen other employees fired for poor performance.

However, testimony from applicant’s supervisors revealed that the employees he thought were fired actually left for Texas to start their own venture; the overtime records reflected only four hours or so in the 5 months prior to his stroke; and the supervisors denied any set quota or having fired anyone in the last ten years.

Defendant argued that the treating physicians conclusions regarding causation could not be considered substantial evidence because the facts reported to the physician by the applicant did not match those to which he testified at trial.

However, the relevant medical experts and the WCAB commissioners both noted that the significant issue here was not the objective stress of the job, but applicant’s own perception of stress.  Because his perception of work-stress caused the stroke, the WCAB concurred with the WCJ that the stroke was industrial.

Defendant argued that stress is an injury psychiatric in nature, and thus must be caused by actual events of employment.  (See Labor Code section 3208.3)  And, as my well-traveled and discerning readers will recall, the Court of Appeal already held that an emotional response to a Personnel Action falls under the scope of a good-faith personnel action.

The commissioners rejected this argument as well – while acknowledging the higher threshold for psyche injuries, the panel noted “there is no similar requirement for physical injuries caused by stress.  The only requirement is that the work-related stress be a contributing cause to applicant’s injury.”

Your humble blogger can only answer this response with a few crack-pot ideas:

Labor Code section 3600(a)(3) requires proximate cause for the injury to be compensable – “[w]here the injury is proximately caused by the employment, either with or without negligence.”  Could one argue that a person that irrationally or unreasonably perceives stress to the point of stroke in an environment where such stress should not or does not exist, could just as easily have similar stroke from family life, traffic, or any other non-industrial activity which can be irrationally perceived as stressful?  Don’t people get strokes from stress outside of work too?

Additionally, we have somewhat of an “eggshell” applicant here.  There is a writ denied panel case in which an applicant’s industrially-caused pneumonia triggered a pre-existing and previously dormant common variable immune deficiency, necessitating lifetime medical treatment.  The WCAB reversed the WCJ’s reliance on the eggshell plaintiff rule, instead finding that something would have eventually triggered the pre-existing condition.  Accordingly, if an applicant is inclined to misperceive an average work-site as particularly stressful, wouldn’t the same be true for any non-work events?

What do you think, dear readers?  Should the subjective deviation from objectively reasonable responses be compensable under comp?

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Fate of Pre-1/1/13 Liens Still Uncertain

July 15th, 2015 No comments

Happy Wednesday, dear readers!

Since the 9th Circuit decided to put the Kaibosh on the Angelotti injunction, there has been a big question mark floating around on how to deal with the liens.  As my readers will recall, the WCAB stopped processing line activation fees in accordance with the injunction issued by the Federal District Court issued on November 19, 2013.

Well, with the 9th Circuits remand, that injunction is supposed to go out the window soon enough.  But what about the liens?

As part of the SB-863 reform (now Labor Code section 4903.06), any lien filed prior to January 1, 2013, was made subject to a lien activation fee of $100.  The failure to pay this $100 activation fee by January 1, 2014, was supposed to result in a dismissal of the lien by operation of law (LC 4903.06(a)(5).)

In November of 2013, the federal district court ordered an injunction against collecting the activation fees, and the DIR complied.  So… now that the injunction is to be lifted, what’s to be done?  Should the DIR grant an additional 58 days for lien claimants to pay?  Should there now be an additional 60 days or so to pay the activation fees?

Your humble blogger is informed that there is a wide range of different approaches by the various WCJs across our fair state, but a memo from Chief Judge Richard Newman reflects that restraint should be the order of the day.   As the 9th circuit has ordered the district court to vacate its decision granting the injunction, the effect has not happened just yet, and is expected on or about July 20, 2015.

In other words, no one knows what’s going to happen as yet.  Your humble blogger opines that, since the DWC made it impossible to pay a lien activation fee prior to January 1, 2014, in compliance with Judge Wu’s injunction, it seems unlikely that LC 4903.06(b)(5) will be given effect.  In all likelihood, the DWC will start collecting lien activation fees again and provide a grace period for fees to be paid.

But, while uncertainty is in the air, it also seems like a wonderful opportunity to settle liens and close files.  The likely best-case scenario for lien claimants from pre-1/1/13 liens is that they will have to pay lien activation fees at some point in the near future.  The worst-case scenario is that the DWC will take the position that the ship has sailed, the train has left the station, and all those liens are dismissed by operation of law.

So, stand by, dear readers, we’re going to get to see what happens.

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2 Chiros and Psychologist Charged in WC Fraud Scam

July 13th, 2015 No comments

Hello, dear readers!  Your humble blogger is back again, and this time asks you to quickly check your files for liens placed by Chiropractors Bahar Gharib-Danesh (Pain Relief Health Centers clinics) and Na Young Eoh, as well as John Terrence, a psychologist.

Federal investigators have alleged that Dr. Gharib-Danesh would recruit patients, assign additional body parts as compensable consequences, and then bill for maximum treatment visits for each injury.  Dr. Eoh was directed to do the same, and also to refer all patience to John Terrence for a psychological evaluation.

According to this article from The Business Journal, Dr. Terrence as alleged to have submitted identical bills for each patient, billing 20.8 hours per day (and one day 291.2 hours – time moves slower in the world of psychology, it appears).

A search of the EAMS lien filing reflects more than 200 case numbers in which John Terrence has filed a lien.  A search for “Bahar Gharib” reflects about $40,000 in liens, and Pain Relief Health Centers likewise reflects more than 200 liens.

The indictments’ estimate is most than $5.6 million in fraudulent billings submitted by Dr. Terrence alone.

So, if you’ve got a lien from any of these folks or their businesses, you may want to hold off on closing that settlement.  If the prosecutors are successful, they might end up sending you the check instead.

In the meantime, your humble blogger wishes prosecutors all the best – scams like the one alleged here should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.  Even if money wrongfully obtained cannot be recovered, the deterrence effect has value of its own against future fraudsters.

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CA Labor Com.: Uber Like Pizza Delivery; Drivers are Employees

July 8th, 2015 3 comments

Happy Wednesday, dear readers!

It’s no secret that you humble blogger is a big fan of ventures like Uber – the intrepid citizen, eager to shrug off the shackles of punching the clock; the end-customer dropping the middle-man and transacting business on the direct.  And, the simplicity of straight-forward numbers, no deductions or notices or insurance …

The growing business model in California and elsewhere is for an entity to provide a platform for consumers to engage labor directly – the compensation of the labor(er) is determined by his or her hustle, and a small cut goes back to the business that set up the deal.  Everybody wins!

The benefit is the flexibility to the worker and the lack of administrative and overhead pains for the platform – no workers’ comp insurance, for example.  No minimum wage, or overtime, or any of the other stuff employers have to go through in California.  The savings make for lower costs and higher earnings.

Well, the California Labor Commission ruled regarding one driver, finding her Uber’s employee, rather than an independent contractor.  Uber has appealed, but it’s a scary thought.

The ruling cited Borrello & Sons v. DIR, a Supreme Court case which has made an appearance or two on this humblest of blogs, and also applied the analogy of pizza delivery drivers – ones who own the car, pay for gas and insurance, and merely deliver pizzas for the customers of the employer, but are still considered employees.  The opinion also relies on the fact that the Uber driver’s car is the driver’s only investment – the intellectual property (and often the iPhone itself) are provided by Uber.

Of course, in the pizza-delivery situation, the driver is a tiny part of a large service, which is primarily the pizza.  In the Uber model, the “employee” provides almost the entire service, with Uber just providing the platform for the exchange of money and contact information.

Rulings like this, especially if there’s one that is more wide-spread and binding throughout, could pretty much kill this industry and business model.  If rates, investments, loans, etc. are all arranged based on the good-faith agreement between companies like Uber on one hand and the drivers on the other, those foundations all come apart when the agreement is set aside by an outside party (like the Labor Commission).

Seriously folks – there’s enough people who are out of work – do we really want to kill something that lets anyone with a car and an iPhone get a gig on his or her own time?  Do we really need to burden more and more people with so-called protections that they don’t want?

There are about 160k Uber Drivers making on average $19 per hour – and those are hours they set themselves; sometimes they aren’t even hours, but 45 minute stretches in between other obligations.  Now, who wants to see all those earnings opportunities disappear?

It would make sense to your humble blogger to let grown-ups be grown-ups and enter into their own arrangements and contracts.

But, let’s say you don’t care much for this Uber – you hated Nietzche in high school and college; you don’t like the idea of being driven around in anything other than a black limo or a yellow cab; you can’t stand the idea of “apps” and the kids with their music and their Facebooks on the phones…

old man cloud

what about YOUR business?  What about the countless business models that drive (get it?) the businesses in California that rely on arrangements presumed to be rooted in independent contractor status, but are really employee-based?

The reason we have contracts, and the reason we enforce them, is because uncertainty kills business ventures – the more risk, the harder it is to get someone to venture money and time.  When the clear intent of both parties at the start of the relationship is to form an independent contractor arrangement, and NOT an employee-employer relationship, and California allows one party (typically the labor side) to void the contract on a whim, you’re teaching young, impressionable businesses to check under their beds for California.

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WCAB Maj.: Psyche PTP Trumps Ortho AME’s Opinions on Ortho Apportionment

July 6th, 2015 3 comments

Welcome back, dear readers!  The fireworks are done, the fires are put out, and our Glorious Republic is still free from domination of Her Majesty’s government – having prevailed both in the war of 1812 and the British Invasion of the 1960s, not to mention watching the hotdog assert global domination over the banger.


So, perhaps we can turn now our attention to the business of workers’ compensation?  I bring to your attention the split panel decision of Dileva v. Northrop Grumman Systems Corp, recently denied review by the Court of Appeal.

The WCJ awarded applicant 96% permanent disability, based on three orthopedic injuries and the resulting psychiatric injury.  The AME for the orthopedic injuries apportioned among the three injuries, but the psyche primary treating physician did not, reasoning that the causation for the impairment from the three orthopedic injuries was inextricably intertwined.   The WCJ then relied on the psyche PTP’s opinions regarding apportionment, and issued one joint award for all three injuries, both for psyche and orthopedic PD.

Defendant argued that the psyche PTP’s opinion failed to properly address apportionment.  Shouldn’t, after all, the psyche apportionment trace the orthopedic apportionment, having been caused by the orthopedic injuries?

The majority reasoned that the burden of proving apportionment is on the defense, and found “it significant that the defendant did not avail itself of the dispute resolution process provided by [LC 4061(b)].”  Of interest to your humble blogger, the majority even cites LC 4061(i): “no issue relating to a dispute over the existence or extent of permanent impairment and limitations resulting from the injury may be the subject of a declaration of readiness to proceed unless there has first been a medical evaluation by a treating physician and by either an [AME or QME].”

The WCAB majority noted that since it was defendant’s DOR that set the matter for trial, and it did not object to or seek a second opinion on the psyche PTP’s opinions on apportionment, defendant was, in your humble blogger’s words, stuck – after all “sometimes you gotta dance with the one that brung you.”

But, look, defendant’s position in this case makes sense – the parties are more bound by the opinions of an AME than a PTP, and the AME here has opined to the causation of permanent disability as to the orthopedic injuries.  If the psyche injury is caused by the orthopedic injuries, what’s good for the proverbial goose, is perfectly good for the proverbial gander.  At the very least, there should have been apportionment as to the orthopedic injuries.

Not so, said the majority: “the percentage to which an applicant’s injury is casually related to his or her employment is not necessarily the same as the percentage to which an applicant’s permanent disability is causally related to his or her injury.”

The dissent cited Labor Code section 4663(c), reasoning that the Labor Code requires a physician’s report to include an apportionment determination, and if the physician can’t include apportionment as part of the report, the physician must give the specific reasons why “the physician could not make a determination.”

Section 4663(c) requires the physician then to refer the case out to another physician that could make an apportionment determination.  As the psyche PTP found that he believes “it would be speculative to attempt to apportion the permanent psychiatric disability between the various injury dates” the proper course of action would have been for the psyche PTP to refer the matter out to another physician to render an apportionment opinion.

Needless to say, your humble blogger is not pleased with the result here.  Parties are regularly and strongly encouraged to use AMEs to expedite resolution of cases and to reduce the burden and backlog faced by QMEs and the medical unit.  Well, here, the parties relied on an orthopedic AME, only to have his opinions rejected in favor of a treating physician.

Furthermore, 4061 looks like it’s being reduced to a waiveable bases to object to a DOR – there was no AME or PQME in psyche, so why was this case allowed to proceed to trial?

The defense position, and what I gather from the panel opinion and dissent, the strategy, was not unreasonable – the medical record consisted of clashing opinions between a treating physician and an AME – the AME’s opinions, unless they’re fresh from the quacking-factory, should have prevailed at trial (not having read any of the actual reports, your humble blogger cannot comment on this last point in this case).  And, after all, you never know what another doctor is going to find – more impairment? More TTD? Perhaps a solid reason why there should be no apportionment at all?  It’s a risk, of course.

So what do you do if you don’t want to do get a panel or an AME but you’d like to knock the opinions of a PTP a bit more in your favor?  After all, with 96% PD on the line… that’s a lot of money.

What about a psyche 4050 exam, with a report by the 4050 psyche doctor to help you cross-examine the PTP at a depo?  Perhaps the PTP would even review and comment on the 4050 report and make it part of the medical record? Just a thought, dear readers.

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Happy Independence Day!

July 4th, 2015 No comments

Hello dear readers!  Your humble blogger sends you his greetings this 4th of July!  Let’s celebrate by visiting our favorite British pubs and ordering the Benedict Arnold (ironically of course), and casually reminding our English friends “you’re not the boss of me!”

Additionally, dear readers, I would take this opportunity to caution all employers out there to be particularly careful with fireworks.  As Gwendelyn Robinowitz, former assistant clerk and sole survivor of the 2008 “Human Fireworks” display put on by the City of Arthur’s Plot, CA, would tell you, fireworks and employees don’t mix – let’s leave it to the professionals and enjoy the show.

Have a safe and happy 4th of July, dear readers – your humble blogger will be faithfully here.

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WC Fraud w/ Foot Injury Caught Hiking; Pleads No Contest

July 1st, 2015 No comments

Alright dear readers – here we are, puffing right along to the end of the week.

The 9th Circuit has lifting the injunction against collecting lien activation, meaning that we might soon have a total wipe-out of any liens from before January 1, 2013 that have not yet paid their activation fee (we’ll see how the DWC decides to handle that one).

We also now have the benefits rates for 2016 – TTD will be paid at a maximum of $1,128.43, and a minimum of $169.26, up from $1,103.29 max and $165.49 minimum in 2015.

And, on top of all that, we have yet another instance of cartoon-level insurance fraud misconduct succesfully prosecuted by a district attorney.

The Sacramento District Attorney has announced that (former) California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Officer Alan Lemke, has plead no contest to felony workers’ compensation fraud.  Mr. Lemke claimed to have sustained a workers’ compensation injury to his foot, but he then engaged in a 50-mile-hike shortly (3 weeks) after being injured at work.

It appears Mr. Lemke took video of his adventures and activities, which law enforcement found following a search of Mr. Lemke’s home (I wonder, dear readers, what the investigators provided as a good faith reason for thinking incriminating evidence would be found).

Mr. Lemke is to be placed on probation and serve 150 days in the county jail, which will possibly go through the work furlough program.  Restitution is to be paid to SCIF in the amount of at least $33,262.56.

And, there you have it folks – justice is served, and a stern warning is sent to all would-be workers’ comp frauds!  Right? Stop laughing!

Your humble blogger tips his hat to the Sacramento District Attorney for prosecuting this case and protecting the interests of an employer, even if the employer happens to be another state actor.  At the same time, however, your humble blogger submits that these things don’t happen often enough – private-sector employers pay enough into the workers’ comp system and law enforcement that we should be seeing more and more of these cases.  Instead… well… ask your favorite defense attorneys how easy it is to get a prosecution going.  To be fair, this varies from county to county, with some offices more concerned about workers’ comp fraud than others.

In other words, your humble blogger applauds but offers a stern demand of encore!

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