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Angelotti Chiropractic, Mooney and Shamsbod Chiropractic, Christina-Arana and Associates, Joyce Altman Interpreters, Scandoc Imaging and Buena Vista Medical Services filed a lawsuit yesterday in the United States District Court, Central District of California seeking to avoid payment of millions of dollars in lien activation fees before the end of 2013. The Defendants are Edmund G. Brown (Governor), Kamala D. Harris (Attorney General), Christine Baker (DIR Director), Ronnie Caplane (WCAB Chair) and Destie Overpeck (DWC Acting Director)

The suit requests declaratory, injunctive and other relief and challenges the constitutionality of certain provisions of SB 863 that retroactively impose a $100 “activation” fee on workers’ compensation liens filed prior to January 1, 2013. Plaintiffs allege that they filed valid liens prior to December 31, 2013 that constitute “vested property rights.” They allege that the mandatory dismissal provisions of the activation fee law interfere with those rights.

The Plaintiffs also complain that other “large holders of workers’ compensation liens are arbitrarily exempted from the fee” such as insurance companies, HMOs and labor union benefit plans. Thus they say that SB 863 “specifically targets independent providers of services to workers’ compensation claimants and was adopted with the purpose of destroying their liens.”

Thus, they allege that these “provisions of SB863 are unconstitutional under the Takings, Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the United States Constitution. Accordingly, this action seeks preliminary and permanent injunction preventing Defendants from enforcing these provisions of SB863.”

Christina Arana and Associates Inc. holds approximately 4,500 liens, Joyce Altman Interpreters, Inc. holds approximately 4,745 liens, Sandoc Imaging Inc. holds approximately 2,300 liens and Buena Vista Medical Services Inc. allege they hold approximately 20,888 liens. In total Plaintiffs allege they hold “tens of thousands of liens” which require activation fees in an amount of “more than $2 million” and the Plaintiffs allege they presently lack the ability to pay the lien activation fees.

The complaint will now be served on the defendants, who will likely demur the complaint. This will test the legal validity of the Plaintiff’s’ constitutional theories before a federal judge. After that step, should they survive the demurrer, it is likely that the case will be submitted by way of the summary judgment process inasmuch as there are no substantial disputes as to the facts. This case will move rapidly through the federal system, at least at the trial level.