Home > Uncategorized > Another Lien is Shot Down by the WCAB

Another Lien is Shot Down by the WCAB

It hasn’t been a good week for lien-claimant Alan Moelleken, M.D., on this humble blog of all things workers’ compensation.  In the case of Ricardo Zuniga v. Barrett Business Services, Inc., Dr. Moelleken had just recovered the cost of medical treatment through an award given by the workers’ compensation Judge on the case when the defendant petition the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board and won a reversal.

Dr. Moelleken filed a lien for almost $9,000, after defendant had paid only $666.80 of the bills on the grounds that there was a valid Medical Provider Network in place and Dr. Moelleken was not in it.

The workers’ compensation Judge had reasoned, to Dr. Moelleken’s unending delight, that, although the defense had entered into evidence copies of letters sent to applicant (notifying him of the MPN) and to lien claimant (objecting to any treatment and putting it on notice that its bills would not be paid), there was no evidence that the letters were received.  Furthermore, the defense failed to put into evidence a value for the services provided other than zero.

The WCAB took a different approach.  With respect to the defendant’s burden of proof in showing that letters were received, the WCAB held that the “letter from defendant to applicant … is prima facie evidence of delivery of required notice to applicant of his rights under the MPN.”

But, the issue of the MPN defense aside, the WCAB went further to note that the lien claimant failed to carry its burden.  The burden of proving all elements of a lien fall on the lien claimant, including that the medical treatment provided was reasonably required to cure or relieve the injured worker from the effects of an industrial injury and that the claimed fee is reasonable.

Perhaps this goes to show that the one remaining tooth after the sad reversal in the Valdez case remains firm and sharp – even if an applicant ventures outside of an MPN, the defense does not have to pay the bills for it.

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