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Archive for September, 2017

SB617 Would Prohibit Apportionment to Genetics

September 6th, 2017 No comments

Happy Wednesday, dear readers!

As you might recall, the defense community scored a victory with the case of Rice, wherein the Court of Appeal upheld a QME’s apportionment of applicant’s permanent disability to genetics.  The Court of Appeal declined to disturb the Court of Appeal’s opinions, so that’s that.  It’s settled, dear readers – we can all go home.  Genetics and hereditary factors can be a source of apportionment.

But… what’s this? It looks like some people in the California Legislature aren’t happy that employers will not be responsible for paying benefits for permanent disability not caused by the employment.

Senator Steve Bradford (D-35th District), has introduced Senate Bill No. 617 which would “require that heredity and genetics be excluded as bases for causation for purposes of determining apportionment of permanent disability.”

The bill would essentially overrule the Rice decision, prohibiting apportionment to non-industrial factors if those factors are the products of genetics or heredity.  Previously, Governor Brown vetoed a similar bill that would have prevented apportionment to menopause or child birth, so hopefully we could expect a similar result from the Governor’s mansion should any such bill reach its desk.

Practically speaking, what could possibly be the logic of such a bill?  California’s employers are already laden with burden after burden and insurance in California is among the most expensive in the Union.  It is no stretch of the imagination to claim that California is effectively pricing the labor of Californians out of the market.

Hopefully, SB 617 will join the pantheon of other bad ideas in history’s forgotten pages, rather than becoming California law.  Should California’s legislature ever grant your humble blogger the power to veto its bills, I assure you this will be on the chopping-block.  For now, though, your humble blogger must resign himself to rolling his eyes in disapproval and hoping that those with influence in Sacramento will see this proposed law to its just end.

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Happy Labor Day 2017!

September 4th, 2017 No comments

Hello dear readers!  Today is Labor Day [insert obligatory pun about delivering children here].

Just a friendly reminder, that the Board is closed today.  Also, pursuant to California Rule of Court 1.10, any act that must be performed today is extended to the next working day (tomorrow).

As to the holiday itself, it is intended to honor the contributions workers, and the Labor Movement, have made to America.  Perhaps this weekend (and this day off) will allow us time to reflect on such contributions and the future of the American worker.

Happy Labor Day!

 

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WCAB: No Authority from WCJ to Issue Gag Order

September 1st, 2017 No comments

Typically, when a person uses the words “gag” and “workers’ compensation” it is to describe a certain amount of disapproval with our beloved system of administering benefits (and inflicting costs).  But, in a significantly rarer use of the term, the WCAB recently reversed a WCJ’s imposition of sanctions when an applicant-hockey player continued to speak to the media about this claim.

WorkCompCentral recently reported that the WCAB reversed a WCJ’s imposition of sanctions against applicant Michael Peluso’s attorney after his client continued to speak to the media regarding his claim.  The WCJ had requested an end to media interviews out of concern of media reports influencing a neurologist set to examine applicant.

Well, the WCAB apparently did not recognize the WCJ’s authority to order or enforce a gag ordered and reversed the imposition of sanctions.

Aside from this particular case, gag orders are often enough contemplated in workers’ compensation cases.  Many employers (and insurers) have rightful concerns that they are locked in battle with a Lernaean Hydra – cut off one of its heads to watch two more regrow in its place.

Defendants are often tempted to settle a case to seal off potential liability and stop leaking litigation funds.  However, when co-workers see their “injured” colleague go home with a big payday, the same employer suddenly has more hydra-heads to deal with, each spitting poison.  “Ugh… yeah… I’m real hurt… when I close my eyes, I can’t see… and, like sometimes, I get tired after work.  So can I have the money now?”

Perhaps defendants would be more willing to settle if the WCAB were empowered to issue and enforce gag orders (particularly requiring applicants not to disclose the sum of their settlement awards)?

Have a good weekend, dear readers!

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