Home > Sanctions, Statute of Limitations, Tactics and Strategy, Uncategorized > The Spooky Sanctions of Skeletal Petitions

The Spooky Sanctions of Skeletal Petitions

Often enough, lien claimants will wage a war of attrition against defendants, hoping that the looming cost of litigation will soften the resolve of defendants in terms of paying undeserving liens.  I have had lien claimants tell me that their settlement demand is cheaper than me “coming down to the Board to litigate” the claim – I’m sure most of us have.  The recent decision in the case of Alfonso Alcaraz v. Hronis, Inc., presents such a situation, and the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board sanctioned two lien claimants for such behavior.  (My earlier readers may recall a discussion, many blog posts ago, that advocated using sanctions to restrain the greedy little appetites of lien claimants.)

The underlying case was settled by compromise and release, and defendant agreed to pay, adjust, or litigate all liens of record.  The matter of two lien claimants, K. Rad Payman, M.D., and Silver Orthopedic Center, proceeded to trial.  Following the May 3 lien trial, the Workers Compensation Judge issued a Findings of Fact, Orders & Award on June 7.  Defendant filed a Petition for Reconsideration on July 1, and on July 14 the WCJ rescinded his Findings of Fact, Orders & Award, and set the matter for an additional hearing.  So here is where it gets weird…

On July 15, both lien claimants filed a petition for reconsideration, seeking relief from the WCJ’s original, and already rescinded, Findings.

The WCAB ordered the petitions dismissed as moot, but then continued in their opinion to note that the petitions would be dismissed in any case, because they were skeletal and untimely.  (Remember, petition for reconsideration must be filed and received by the Board within twenty days of the issuance of the underlying decision, plus five for mailing if the decision was served by mail.)

The petitions themselves were the very definition of skeletal – claiming new information was found without describing said information or how it would affect the case.  Employing the tactic of Scheherazade, the lien claimants hoped to fill the commissioners with an unyielding curiosity.  Needless to say, the Board was not amused.

On its own motion, the Board sanctioned both lien claimants for their petitions, which were “without merit and done solely for the purpose of causing unnecessary delay or a needless increase in the cost of litigation and are not justifiable.”

Realistically speaking, the sanctions imposed are not going to do much to deter such behavior.  $250 is a cost of doing business, not a “scared straight” event.  On the other hand, sanctions like these are a great thing for another reason – they build up a record that can be used in the future, like in the case of a certain hearing representative.

Aladdin would be proud…

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  1. March 27, 2012 at 8:06 am

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