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Lien Claimant Files Baseless Recon; Gets Sanctioned

December 6th, 2013

Few things bring warmth to your humble blogger’s cold heart like the wrath of the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board coming down on a lien claimant.

Such is the story of the case of Raul Alvarado v. DPR Construction, Inc., a recent writ denied case which saw Translating Sources, Inc. given notice of the WCAB’s intent to file sanctions and award attorney fees to the defendant.

In short, the lien claimant had about $20,000 in interpreter fees as part of its lien, but by the time of a lien conference, it was showing a zero balance.  When Translating Sources failed to pay its lien activation fee (this was back in August, before Judge Wu’s injunction against the collection of lien activation fees) its lien was dismissed.

In reviewing the lien claimant’s petition for reconsideration, the WCAB noted that the lien claimant could not possibly be aggrieved, given the fact that it was showing a zero balance – either by full payment or some agreement, the balance was paid.

If that’s the case… what’s the point in the petition for reconsideration?  Why make the defendant waste billable hours and the Judge write a report and the WCAB spend time reviewing the petition and the answer?

The WCJ’s report wasn’t much help either.  Not that the WCJ wrote an unclear report, but quiet the contrary – the WCJ was clearly as much at a loss as the WCAB (and your humble blogger) as to why the lien claimant was wasting everyone’s time with a petition.

Well, the petition is silent on this point, but the WCAB did not hesitate to give notice that, absent a pretty good answer, sanctions would be imposed ($1,500) and attorney fees awarded as well.

So, let this be a lesson for all of us: lien claimants, save yourself the money and only seek relief when you are actually entitled.  And for defendants – don’t be afraid to seek attorney fees in cases like these.

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