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Always Object to Venue Based on AA’s Office

Hello, my beloved readers!  As you sail off into your weekend, full of revelry and escape, I hope you will allow me to send you off with a thought.

As some of my first few readers will recall, the issue of venue has been touched upon a time or two by this blog.  Today, I want to tell you about my friend Jack.

Jack is a defense attorney, and comes from a long line of defense attorneys, particularly in workers’ compensation.  His cousin, Jill and he both do workers’ comp defense, one in southern California, the other in Northern, for the law firm of Whey, Cheatum, and Howe.

I was having a drink with Jack the other day, and he let me in on a little secret of his practice.

He says he ALWAYS tells his clients that they should object to venue based on the applicant’s attorney’s principal place of business.

You will recall, dear readers, that Labor Code section 5501.5 provides that an applicant must be filed in the county nearest to (1) the employee’s residence at the time of filing; (2) where the injury occurred; or (3) the county where the employee’s attorney maintains his or her principal place of business.

However, subsection (c) of the same provides that if venue is chosen based on the attorney’s place of business, then the employer can object within thirty days of receiving the notice of application.  In fact, the WCAB in Koine v. Fontana USD (1998 panel decision) held that there is no discretion on the part of the presiding Judge when faced with a timely venue objection under 5501.5(c).  If it’s within 30 days, with or without a showing a good cause, venue must be transferred to the nearest board to an applicant’s residence or injury location.

So, as Jack finished off his fourth Old Fashioned, he told me his family of defense attorneys routinely recommended to their clients to automatically object to venue based on the attorney’s address.

His reasoning was as follows:  odds are, the applicant lives close to where he or she got hurt (not always, but most times).  So if the attorney is in the same county as where the injury occurred or where the worker lives, venue would be selected based on one of those and no objection would be possible.

If, however, the injured worker resides somewhere in northern California, and the applicants’ attorney is one of those completely ethical ones from southern California (you know the ones, and, no, I won’t name them here), you’ve just severed the cord between the attorney and the client.

The southern California attorney is going to be on tilt trying to handle a northern California venue, and will have to rely on contract appearance attorneys for every hearing.  Soon enough, the profit margins will disappear… possibly leading the same unethical nature that allows this far-off attorney to hire steerers, runners, and cappers to bring him clients, to abandon his client as well…

Once this lecturer was completed, Jack cackled madly and ordered another drink, and I vowed to myself never to join him for happy hour again (I did not seek Jack genuinely “happy” even once during that hour, but that’s par for the course with a workers’ compensation defense attorney).  But it did get me thinking – should the defense always object to AA’s choice of venue?  Should there be a boilerplate objection the intake person at the adjusting agency should have?

After all, the county where in the applicant lives or where the injury occurred is going to be the most convenient for defense witnesses.  Additionally, the go-to attorney is probably closer to there than the applicant’s attorney’s nearest DA.

Additionally, why should the applicant be inconvenienced with unnecessary travel?

What do you think dear readers?  Is Jack crazy for always objecting to venue, or is your humble blogger crazy for having some doubts and reservations?

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  1. August 1st, 2014 at 09:13 | #1

    Thanks much for both the info and the link to how to make an old fashioned. I’m not sure which one is more important to me… I guess it depends what kind of day I’ve had.

    • Gregory Grinberg
      August 1st, 2014 at 09:15 | #2

      Really? There’s no doubt in my mind about which one is more important… laws change, tactics improve, but a good Old Fashioned never goes out of style.

  2. Tom
    August 3rd, 2014 at 05:52 | #3

    Not crazy at all. When I’m looking at an application, the first thing I look for is the venue. I want nothing to do with certain boards (MDR, LBO) where you are more or doomed from the outset. Hannibal won so many battles because he dictated where the fight would begin, why let AA stack the deck as such?

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