Ana Diaz filed an Application for Adjudication of Claim for injuries allegedly sustained to her right shoulder, right arm, right hand fingers, and lower back. Some of the alleged injuries were accepted by Zenith Insurance Company as industrial, and her claim was resolved by Compromise and Release approved on April 30, 2014.
Several outstanding lien claims remained unresolved, and the matter was set for lien conference on August 6, 2014. Hearing representative Javier Jimenez appeared at the lien conference on behalf of lien claimant California Imaging, who filed a lien for photocopying services. Zenith contended that California Imaging was not a properly licensed professional photocopier as required by the Business and Professions Code.
Hearing representative Javier Jimenez was unable to respond to defendant’s contention and unaware of lien claimant’s licensing status; was unable to explain billing characterized by the WCJ as “less than clear”; and was generally unable to respond to inquiries regarding the issues in dispute and appeared unfamiliar with the file. Mr. Jimenez advised the WCJ that his only authority .was to set the matter for lien trial. When asked by the WCJ to identify the person most knowledgeable at California Imaging regarding. ‘the licensing and billing issues, Mr. Jimenez named Maria Rubio Trujillo, and further stated that Trujillo advised him that the “proper” name of lien claimant California Imaging is actually San Diego Imaging.
The WCJ then continued the lien conference to August 22, 2014, and ordered Trujillo to personally appear “in order to explain lien claimant’s billing, address the licensing issue, and explain the relationship between California Imaging and San Diego Imaging to determine the true identity of the lien claimant.” Trujillo’s petition for reconsideration and for removal followed.
Trujillo contends in her petition that she has unspecified personal and family responsibilities as well as work duties that would be “severely and unreasonably impacted” in unspecified ways by her personal appearance in Oxnard, and contends in essence that the Order was an abuse of discretion and a product of bias against her and/or lien claimant California Imaging by the WCI.
The WCAB dismissed the petition for reconsideration as there was no final order subject to reconsideration, and denied removal in the case of Diaz v Sambrailio.
The Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board and individual WCJs have broad power to do all things necessary or convenient to fully adjudicate the disputed issues and to ascertain the substantial rights of the parties and carry out justly the spirit and provisions of the Labor Code. This includes the inherent power to control the WCAB’s practice and procedure to prevent frustration, abuse, or disregard of its processes which in tum includes the power to order the personal appearance of parties at hearings (Rule 10240( d); Henkel v. State Comp. Ins.Fund (2010) 38 Cal. Workers’ Comp. Rptr. 218 (ADJ4197101, Appeals Board Panel Opinion)).
Rule l 0770.1 subdivision (e), provides in relevant part. that every party or representative appearing at a lien conference or lien trial “shall have sufficient knowledge of the lien dispute(s) to inform the Workers’. Compensation Appeals Board as to all relevant factual and/or legal issues in dispute.” As explained by the WCJ in his Report, the representative for lien claimant California Imaging was unable to respond to reasonable inquiries regarding the licensing issue, nor was he able to provide more basic information such as an explanation or clarification of the disputed billing. Because the representative was unable to comply with Rule 10770.1 (e), the WCJ was unable to meaningfully discuss the issues with the parties or determine whether there were disputes that required a lien trial. It was within the WCJ’s discretion to continue the matter to another date and to require lien claimant’s person most knowledgeable to appear, so that a meaningful conference could be held. The Order for Trujillo to personally appear was not arbitrary, capricious, unreasonable, or improperly motivated.