Home > Sanctions, Uncategorized > “Sloppy, Unprofessional and Worthy of Sanctions…”

“Sloppy, Unprofessional and Worthy of Sanctions…”

Have you ever had a petition come across your desk only to think to yourself, “gee, this sure is sloppy, unprofessional and worthy of sanctions?”  If you’re an adjuster or a defense attorney, the answer is probably yes; and then you went about responding to the citations made to the Civil Code of Fantasy Land or whatever else is being argued in the matter at hand.  Now we know, at least occasionally, the commissioners of the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board find themselves in the same situation.

Sanctions cases are always fun.  For every time the defense community has been wronged, a sanctions case gives us hope that, the next time we’re being harassed, threatened, shaken down, and agitated by obsessed applicants, over-zealous attorneys, or frivolous lien-claimants, that we’ll petition for sanctions and we’ll get them.

In what is quickly becoming “sanctions week” at your humble blogger’s domain, I recently had case of David Hernandez v. Russell Fisher Partnership (insured by ICW Group/Explorer Insurance Company) brought to my attention.  There, applicant appealed from a Workers’ Compensation Judge’s  “take-nothing” order, arguing that the WCJ was mistaken in finding a defense witness credible and the applicant less than so.  The WCAB quickly dispatched the basis for the petition by recognizing that the WCJ is generally afforded an enormous amounts of deference in matters of judging credibility.

The WCAB then continued, noting that applicant’s attorney violated California Code of Regulations section 10842 by attaching as an exhibit the Further Minutes of Hearing and Summary of Evidence to her petition for reconsideration.  But, to take it one step further, this copy of the Minutes had something special: applicant’s hand-written notes and comments.  The WCAB allowed the attorney and the law firm to respond and explain its violation of section 10842.

In her response, applicant’s attorney apologized for “attaching ‘parts of the record already received’ to the petition,” but the WCAB was not impressed with her failure to address the “interlineations with hand-written arguments in the margin.”  The WCAB declared applicants attorney’s “actions to be sloppy, unprofessional and worthy of sanctions in the amount of $250.oo”  In somewhat of an understatement, the WCAB found that “[s]ubmitting an annotated version of the Minutes of Hearing and Summary of Evidence shows a lack of judgment.”

Your proud and upright blogger will decline to name names in this case.  Any readers determined to find the offending party can e-mail me for a copy of the panel opinion.  But I am pleased (my no doubt the constant, overriding goal for all judges in this fine State) with the WCAB standing up for the rules – without a doubt the defense had to absorb the litigation costs of this clearly baseless petition, and though the $250 will not bankrupt applicant’s attorney, perhaps the embarrassment and the record of sanction will help to curb the more egregious behavior.

A special thanks to Kent H. Ball, Esq., of ICW Group Insurance Companies for providing me with copies of these panel opinions.

Categories: Sanctions, Uncategorized
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