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Case Summaries

Workers' Comp

[05/13] Lozano v. Workers' Compensation Appeals Bd.
In a writ of review brought by the widow and children of a deceased firefighter after the WCAB denied reconsideration of the decision of the workers' compensation judge finding that the cancer presumption of Labor Code section 3212.1 did not apply to petitioner's claim, the decision of the WCAB is annulled where an amendment to the Labor Code section 3212.1, enacted by Senate Bill 1271 on February 19, 2008 and effective on January 1, 2009, which would extend the cancer presumption to firefighters like the one in this case, is applicable to the claim for workers' compensation benefits filed on November 3, 2009, because the amendment effected a procedural change, and accordingly the presumption is properly applied in the post-enactment adjudication of this claim.

[01/29] Ogden Entertainment Services v. Workers Compensation Appeals Board
In this case, respondent Ritzhoff sustained numerous orthopedic injuries and injuries to his psyche while working as a banquet server for defendant-petitioner. The decision of the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board (the Board) denying the petition for reconsideration and adopting the decision of the workers' compensation judge finding Ritzhoff totally permanently disabled is annulled and the case is remanded with directions for new proceedings, where the due process right of defendant to cross-examination of Ritzhoff was violated.

[01/06] Schultz v. Workers' Compensation Appeals Board
Decision of the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board denying benefits to plaintiff-employee is annulled, where: 1) under the "going and coming rule," workers' compensation benefits are generally not available for injuries suffered by an employee during a local commute to a fixed place of business at fixed hours, because the injury does not occur during the ordinary course of employment; 2) under the premises line rule, the ordinary course of employment is deemed to commence when an employee enters the employer's premises; and 3) the premises line rule applies to an employee injured in a single-car traffic accident if the employee was a civilian working on a secure Air Force base not generally open to the public, the employee entered the base in his personal vehicle after passing a guard gate using a security pass, the employee had travelled one mile inside the base when the accident occurred, and the employer had multiple locations on the Air Force base between which the employee travelled sometimes in his own vehicle to perform work.

[12/17] Cal. Ins. Guarantee Assn. v. WCAB
In this medical billing dispute, the decision of the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (the Board) adopting the Workers’ Compensation Judge’s (WCJ) findings of fact and determinations of the reasonable fee for various arthroscopic knee, shoulder, and epidural injection procedures is affirmed, where: 1) despite the fact that the Legislature created a new administrative independent review process for the resolution of billing disputes in the context of workers’ compensation, and although the text of the relevant medical fee legislation and resulting statutes is ambiguous, the most reasonable interpretation of the legislation is that it does not divest the Board of jurisdiction to decide the dispute at issue in this case; and 2) the WCJ’s findings are supported by substantial evidence.

[11/20] In the Matter of Maureen Kigin v. State of New York Workers' Compensation Board
In this case, claimant was injured on the job and entitled to worker's compensation, but upon receipt of acupuncture treatment, a Workers' Compensation Law Judge determined that claimant's medical provider failed to show that the additional acupuncture treatments were medically necessary. The Workers' Compensation Board affirmed the Judge's determination, arguing that the treatments were not medically necessary within the "Medical Treatment Guidelines." Order of the Appellate Division affirming the Board's decision is affirmed, where: 1) the establishment of the variance procedure was within the Board's broad regulatory powers; 2) it was reasonable for the Board to promulgate uniform guidelines for defining the nature and scope of treatment considered medically necessary; 3) nothing in the Workers' Compensation law precludes the Board from requiring proof of medical necessity from claimant's health care provider; 4) the carrier bears the burden of proffering "substantial evidence"; and 5) the Guidelines provide claimants with a meaningful opportunity to be heard on the denial of any variance request.

[08/06] LeFiell Manufacturing Co. v. Superior Court (Watrous)
In an action brought by plaintiff-employee under Labor Code section 4558, which provides an exception to the exclusivity of the workers' compensation system for employees injured as a result of the employer's knowing removal of, or knowing failure to install, a point of operation guard on a power press, the trial court erred in denying defendant-employer's motion for summary judgment, where: 1) the door that was removed from the Fenn 5F swaging machine operated by plaintiff-employee is not a point of operation guard as a matter of law; and thus, 2) defendant -employer is entitled to summary judgment.

[07/18] Benavides v. WCAB
The decision of the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board rescinding petitioner's disability rating is annulled, where there was good cause for the Workers' Compensation Judge (WCJ) to reopen the case and therefore the appeals board is directed to reinstate the WCJ's award of a 72 percent disability rating. (Opinion after rehearing)

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