Home > Fraud, Sanctions > Applicant’s Attorney Sanctioned $1,000 for False Statements

Applicant’s Attorney Sanctioned $1,000 for False Statements

Sanctions.  Sanctions, sanctions, sanctions.  They make the news when they happen, and the defense community involuntarily pumps a fist in support when the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board imposes sanctions against lien claimants or applicants’ attorneys who play fast and loose with the truth.

Not too long ago, the WCAB imposed sanctions against a Valencia applicants’ lawyer for some less-than-honest statements pertaining to the timeliness of his filed petition.  In keeping with WCDefenseCA’s policy of not naming names, your humble blogger will decline to broadcast the perpetrator’s identity.  But if you e-mail me (Gregory@grinberglawoffice.com), I will send you the panel opinion.

Applicant’s attorney filed a petition for reconsideration on June 28, 2011 even though the underlying Joint Findings and Award was issued January 25, 2011.  To deal with the issue of timeliness (for a discussion of reconsideration and removal, please click here) applicant’s attorney alleged that he never received the F&A when it was served.  But this means that he had 20 days from the date of receipt to file a petition for reconsideration – and the question arose as to when he actually received the F&A.

In answering applicant’s petition for reconsideration of June 28, defense counsel raised the argument that the petition was not timely.  Furthermore, evidence was offered that applicant had the F&A in his hands at an Mandatory Settlement Conference on May 2, 2011.  Your humble blogger may be mathematically impaired, but with the use of his fingers and toes he discovered that June 28 is more than twenty days after May 2nd.

Well, the WCAB ordered an investigation on the trial level into this issue and the question of ex parte communication with a judge and making misleading statements to a judge.  The defense attorney appeared at the hearing to testify, but applicant’s attorney did not.  He later alleged that he calendared the hearing incorrectly (labeling the hearing as 1:00 instead of 8:30) and that the whole thing is moot anyways because “the Fifth amended [sic]” protects him from testifying against himself.

The WCAB was not impressed.

Sanctions of $1,000 were imposed on the applicant’s attorney for the misleading claims regarding when the attorney actually had the F&A.  Because no evidence was offered with respect to the issues of ex parte communication and false statements to a workers’ compensation Judge, sanctions were not imposed for those as well (the applicant’s attorney escaped an additional $2,000 in sanctions).  With respect to the claim of the “Fifth amended,” the WCAB noted that there were no criminal charges pending, so the defense did not apply.

Your curious blogger can’t help but wonder – has this attorney ever claimed to “not have received” some crucial document in the past?  This time he was caught red-handed because a competent defense attorney was able to catch him; perhaps there have been cases where no one remembered or was willing to testify?

So, what lessons can we learn from this story?  Well, for starters, keep a keen eye on your calendar and make sure you don’t miss the chance to testify in your own defense.  Keep an eye on the dates involved – the defense attorney in this case was able to keep the rules and deadlines from being bent out of shape through diligence and a properly drafted answer.

Categories: Fraud, Sanctions
  1. Chris
    April 24, 2012 at 9:18 am

    Seems to me that the $1G fine is the cost of doing business in California. I guess the bar does not take notice of such unseemly activities. So a grand seems reasonable in the “grand” scheme of doing business in California.

    Finally, maybe he/she may have meant the 5th Amended Complaint as opposed to the 5th Amendment which I agree does not apply. Maybe a malpractice claim may be in order here for blowing the deadline.

    • April 24, 2012 at 3:21 pm

      I know I say it every time I do a post on sanctions, but I can’t help but think about all the times this happened and it didn’t get noticed, pressed, or punished. If we even assume that something of this sort happened 9 other times, then we’re talking about a $100 filing fee – small price to pay for all the abusive trouble you can threaten the defense with.

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