Estela Chanchavac filed a Continuous Trauma Claim against LB Industries Inc., and its two industrial carriers, Sentry Insurance and Twin City Fire Insurance Company. There was no election against either carrier, both remained active defendant participants in the case. Thus it was the view of the WCJ that “It should be noted at the outset that the employer is no longer a party to this action. Its carriers have entered their appearances in this case, so the employer is effectively dismissed as a party. cf. L.C. section 3757”.
One of the carriers, Twin City, had already obtained a chiropractic PQME with the applicant. Sentry sought to obtain its own PQME in orthopedics. Applicant objected contending that jointly, the two carriers can only obtain one PQME. The WCJ ruled that Sentry Select had been properly assigned a QME panel in orthopedics, and that applicant and Sentry should utilize the doctor remaining after the striking process to resolve any disputes between them. Applicant petitioned for Reconsideration and/or Removal which was denied by the WCAB in the case of Chanchavac v LB Industries.
The Petitions were dismissed without considering the merits. However, the WCJ noted that most of the exhibits introduced by applicant which relate to the selection procedure show that Sentry was entirely shut out from that process.
Applicant argued that permitting each defendant to obtain its own QME evaluations will result in “dueling reports” that will complicate the proceedings. In response the WCJ said “That is certainly true, which is why the legislature provided a simple expedient to avoid the problem. As noted in the Opinion, applicant could simply have elected against Twin City, thereby stopping Sentry from conducting any discovery at all. Cf. Kelm v Koret of California (1981) 46 CCC 113.”
As noted in that decision, the election process under L.C. section 5500.5 is specifically designed “for the purpose of ameliorating the procedural morass which has faced the board in multiple defendant cases”, and to “avoid the confusion and delay inevitable where multiple defendants are involved.”
The WCJ went on to note that “Although this option was presented to applicant on the morning of trial, she steadfastly refused to avail herself of it. She has instead insisted that Sentry remain an active party defendant in this case, while simultaneously attempting to prevent it from acting. The undersigned believes she cannot have it both ways. If she does not wish to designate one carrier with whom she wishes to litigate, she must litigate with all of them, all of whom must in turn be permitted to defend their own interests as they see fit. There is simply no basis or precedent for designating one carrier as some sort of “lead carrier” which other carriers must follow, or the carrier in which all other carriers are in “privity” and therefore bound by its decisions and actions.”