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So a Lien Claimant Walks Into a Bar (OUCH!)

March 19th, 2013

Once in a while your humble blogger speculates as to the thought process of lien claimants.  I imagine that at one point, the lot of them gathered together and agreed that the legislature did not intend to make lien filing fees mandatory, and the whole thing was a big misunderstanding.  After all, why would you require filing fees for the true intended beneficiaries of the workers’ compensation system… the lien claimants? (Welcome to the fantasy world of the lieners’ compensation system).

So, in case anyone thought the new rules regarding the filing of liens and paying fees were a joke, a gentle “gotchya!” from those humor-loving clowns in Sacramento… they’re not.  Labor Code section 4903.06(a)(4) requires all lien claimants to be paid up on their respective filing fees at the time of the lien conference.  More than that, the same section requires them to provide proof of such payment, or else they face dismissal with prejudice.

Some of the Southern California lien claimants didn’t get the memo (and by memo, your humble blogger means the flood of blog posts, articles, bulletins, conference topics, and every other imaginable source of news on the fact that lien claimants must pay filing fees or lose their ticket to the gravy train).  In the case of Jose Pedro Soto v. Marathon Industries, Inc., defendant filed a Declaration of Readiness to Proceed to a lien conference after the case-in-chief has resolved by compromise and release.

Well, the lien conference was scheduled for 8:30 a.m. on January 10, 2013.  The workers’ compensation Judge dismissed the lien claimants who failed to show proof of payment… until they scurried to their smart-phones and I-Pads and e-paid their filing fees (around 11:00 a.m.).

When the WCJ was presented with proof of this payment, the order was rescinded, so defendant filed for removal… and won.

The Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board issued a panel decision in which it ordered the dismissal, with prejudice, of those lien claimants that had failed to pay the lien filing fee by the time of the hearing.  Accordingly, subsequent payment of the fee does not cure the defect – lien claimants cannot avoid paying the filing fee to see if the defendant remembers to raise the issue, and then pay up later that day.  Even if the payment was only “subsequent” by less than three hours!

Now, this blog is not here to provide advice or guidance to lien claimants, so WCDefenseCA encourages them to re-affirm their commitment to having their liens dismissed – don’t file those fees, guys, you’re doing great!

But as for the defense community, you cannot pass up this opportunity to knock liens out of the park.  Your humble blogger is not prone to making threats, but if you do not raise this defense to every single lien at every single lien hearing or conference, I WILL HUNT YOU DOWN AND GIVE YOU THE FROWNING AND DISAPPROVING HEAD-SHAKING OF A LIFETIME.  SB-863 has given you an opened door, and if your defense doesn’t begin with an inquiry as to proper payment of filing fees, you’re trying to kick it down for no reason.

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