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In the case of Martin Trapero v North American Pneumatics: State Compensation Insurance Fund, Trapero, sustained an admitted industrial injury on March 3, 2000. The parties agreed to use multiple AMEs to resolve the case, including an agreement to use Dr. Thompson as their AME in orthopedics. Dr. Thompson examined applicant and issued a report dated June 19,2008. On December 29, 2009, applicant’s attorney noticed Dr. Thompson’s deposition for January 11, 2010. Approximately five to eight minutes before the deposition began, applicant’s attorney handed defense counsel a vocational evaluation report dated January 5, 2010, prepared by Mr. Mark Remas. The report was presented to Dr. Thompson after the deposition began. At page 23 of the deposition, when applicant’s attorney attempted to ask Dr. Thompson to “take a look” at the vocational evaluation report and “perform a cursory review,” defense counsel interjected: “I object to that.”

Based upon applicant’s attorney’s alleged violation of section 4062.3, defendant filed a petition to strike Dr. Thompson’s report and deposition. The matter proceeded to hearing on March 28, 2011. The workers’ compensation judge concluded that there was no violation of Labor Code section 4062.3 when applicant’s attorney handed a recently-procured vocational evaluation report to defense counsel a few minutes before the deposition of the Agreed Medical Evaluator was to begin.

The State Compensation Insurance Fund (SCIF), filed a timely petition for reconsideration. SCIF contended that: (1) applicant’s attorney’s “hand delivery method” of service was not a legally acceptable method of service intended by the Legislature under section 4062.3; (2) the purpose of section 4062.3 is to protect the impartiality of the medical-legal process, and a party who initiates communication with an AME with only a few minutes prior notice to the opposing party may be perceived by the AME as attempting to influence the process; and (3) to interpret the statute in such a way as to permit applicant’s attorney’s “subsequent communication” would be to violate the principles of statutory construction.

The WCAB panel agreed with the SCIF and reversed and returned the matter for further proceedings.

“The vocational report falls within the definition of “information” described in section 4062.3. That is, the vocational report is a “nonmedical record relevant to determination of a medical issue” under section 4062.3(a)(2). Furthermore, subdivision (c) states that if an AME is selected, “as part of their agreement on an evaluator, the parties shall agree on what information is to be provided’ to the AME.”

“Here, in springing the vocational report on defense counsel when the AME was about to be deposed, applicant’s attorney denied defense counsel the opportunity to determine if this new “information” was something that he would agree to provide to the AME. Section 4062.3(c), in stating that the “information” that is to be provided to the AME must be agreed upon by the parties “as part of their agreement on an evaluator,” makes clear that providing “information” to the AME is nothing casual, but goes to the heart of the AME agreement. If the “information” is not agreed to, the AME is not agreed to either. Defense counsel objected to the “information” during the AME’s deposition, so it was not “information” that defense counsel agreed to, and it should not have been provided to the AME at that time.”

“In reaching this conclusion, we are mindful that the impartiality and appearance of impartiality of the medical evaluator, whether an AME or PQME, is paramount. (See Alvarez v. Workers’ Comp Appeals Bd. (2010) 187 Cal.App 4th 575, 589 [75 Cal.Comp.Cases 817, 826].)”