California Commissioner Files Amicus Briefs for Workers’ Comp En Banc Decisions

May 5, 2009

California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner has filed amicus briefs in the appeal of the Ogilvie v. City and County of San Francisco, Almaraz v. Environmental Recovery Services and Guzman v. Milpitas Unified School District en banc decisions, urging the state Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board to modify or narrow its previous decisions.

The Appeals Board granted reconsideration of its prior en banc decision in order to allow further briefing by the parties and to allow amicus curiae briefing from other interested persons or entities with regard to how the 2005 Permanent Disability Rating Schedule may be rebutted. Following the briefing time allowed in the decision the Appeals Board will issue a Decision After Reconsideration modifying, amending, or affirming the prior decision.

“The Legislature’s clear intent is that the Permanent Disability Rating Schedule (PDRS) and determinations of permanent disability be consistent, uniform and objective,” the Commissioner’s brief states. These decisions will instead “promote unpredictability and additional costs and expenses to the workers’ compensation system.”

The briefs also argued that changes made to the PDRS should only apply to current and new cases and not retroactively.

“Such modification should only apply prospectively from the Appeal’s Board’s determination and not only to cases previously resolved or subject to being reopened,” the brief states.

Last week, Commissioner Poizner asked the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau to withdraw the portion of the requested increase in the Claims Cost Benchmark related to these two cases until it determined what the Appeals Board and courts will do. He has also called a second hearing to determine why medical treatment costs are increasing. That hearing will be held on June 8 at 1 p.m. in Sacramento, Calif.

Sources: CDI, WCAB

Topics California Workers' Compensation

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