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A MIDSUMMER DAY’S DEBRIEFING
We’re well into summer now and its attendant email away messages and vacation picture posts online. Everyone at Mullen & Filippi hopes the summer is treating you well and that you’re enjoying the agreeable weather most places in the state seem to be enjoying.
MULLEN & FILIPPI WELCOMES NEW ADDITIONS TO THE PARTNERSHIP RANKS!
Jaya Kapoor, the Managing Attorney in our Van Nuys Office, has been voted in as a Senior Partner. She was admitted to practice in 2003 and commenced her employment with Mullen & Filippi in 2011. In 2014 Jaya was voted in as an Associate Partner and her continued strong work ethic resulted in review for Senior Partnership this year. Jaya’s aggressive and proactive file handling, legal acumen, and strong relationships with her clients made the decision to invite her into the Senior Partnership an easy one. She has served and continues to serve as a mentor to the attorneys in her charge at the Van Nuys office. A huge congratulations are in order to Jaya for her consistent excellence. The firm’s future is in good hands with her at the helm.
Congratulations are also in order to Oscar Haro, an Associate Attorney in our Chico office, who has been voted in as an Associate Partner. Oscar was admitted to practice in 2012 and joined our firm in 2014. Oscar’s abilities as a trial attorney have been demonstrated in countless cases in multiple venues. His ability to develop evidence and move a case assertively to trial have led to a strong track record of favorable outcomes for the firm’s clients. We are certain he will continue to be an asset to our clients and attorneys alike in the Chico area.
Finally, Steve Rosendin, an Associate Attorney in our San Francisco office has also been voted in as an Associate Partner. Steve was admitted to practice in 2014 and joined our firm in 2016. Steve’s grace under fire while handling the most complicated of claims has led to an earned reputation as a fearless defense attorney. Steve is also a wealth of information when it comes to the finer points of workers’ compensation law and frequently provides ongoing education presentations and seminars to the firm’s clients.
Congratulations to Jaya, Oscar, and Steve for their well-deserved advancement in the firm!
EN BANC WCAB CLARIFIES CATASTROPHIC INJURY DECISION
In the case of Kris Wilson v. State of CA Cal Fire (SCIF) (2019), the WCAB, in an Opinion and Order Denying Petition for Reconsideration dated 7/15/2019, rejected defendant’s contention that the phrase “catastrophic injury” in Labor Code section 4660.1(c)(2)(B), which allows for increased impairment due to compensable consequence psychiatric injury, refers solely to the mechanism of injury and the condition immediately resulting from the injury. The WCAB also rejected the defendant’s argument that the WCAB acted in excess of its authority in promulgating five non-exhaustive factors, in its original 5/10/2019 Opinion and Decision After Reconsideration, to be considered in determining when an injury is catastrophic.
The WCAB noted that section 4660.1(c)(2)(B) contains no explicit temporal restrictions in defining a catastrophic injury, and rejected defendant’s contention that the listed examples of catastrophic injury (such as loss of limb, paralysis, severe burn, and severe head injury) demonstrated a legislative intent to limit catastrophic injury to the immediate aftermath of an injury, noting that amputation of a limb can occur due to later medical developments separated in time from the injury itself. The WCAB also rejected the defense argument that it exceeded its powers, stating that it is vested with full power, authority, and jurisdiction to try and determine any matter under Division 4 of the Labor Code.
The WCAB affirmed its prior finding that the determination of whether an injury is catastrophic “focuses on the nature of the injury and is a fact-driven inquiry,” and again endorsed the five non-exhaustive factors it previously indicated could be considered by a WCJ in determining whether a catastrophic injury occurred.
The factors previously set forth by the WCAB are: 1) the intensity and seriousness of treatment received by the employee that was reasonably required to cure or relieve from the effects of injury; 2) the ultimate outcome when the employee’s physical injury is permanent and stationary; 3) the severity of the physical injury and its impact on the employee’s ability to perform activities of daily living; 4) whether the physical injury is closely analogous to one of the injuries specified in the statute (loss of limb, paralysis, severe burn, or severe head injury) and; 5) whether the physical injury is an incurable and progressive disease.
For the time being, as it is not yet known if the decision will be ultimately appealed to a higher court, those are the factors that a WCJ will likely consider in determining whether an injured worker should receive additional impairment due to a compensable consequence psychiatric injury.
SEDGWICK ANNOUNCES ACQUISITION OF YORK RISK SERVICES GROUP
Sedgwick, which has grown since its founding in 1969 to be the largest third-party claims administrator, recently announced it has signed an agreement to acquire York Risk Services Group. By revenue, according to data published by Business Insurance, York was previously the fourth largest third-party administrator. Per the press release from Sedgwick, this acquisition will bring Sedgwick to around 27,000 employees.
CAAA SUMMER CONVENTION Attorneys, doctors, and judges convened in Las Vegas from 6/20/2019-6/23/2019 for the annual summer convention put on by the California Applicants’ Attorney Association. Yours truly parachuted into enemy territory to speak as a panelist and provide a defense perspective on the legal standard for proving industrial causation in internal medicine and occupational disease cumulative trauma claims. The event had panels on MPN and QME disputes, defenses to AOE/COE, social media discovery, penalties, and the major cases that issued this year. As always, it provided a good idea of where attorneys who represent injured workers see (and would like to see) the workers’ compensation system headed in years to come.
This Bulletin was written by Jim Cotter, Associate Partner in our Oakland office.