In 2004, Andrew Hernandez, a CHP sergeant in Valencia, slipped and fell while assisting in the pursuit of a suspect who had fled on foot, injuring his low back and cervical spine. Hernandez and the CHP through its adjuster State Compensation Insurance Fund agreed that his injuries were AOE-COE and that he was 35 percent disabled and would need future medical treatment for his low back.
The principal issue in the proceeding before the WCJ concerned payments for temporary total disability. In a February 2013 decision the WCJ found that Hernandez was temporarily totally disabled from July 18, 2011 to November 8, 2011. Although Hernandez received payments equal to the full amount of his salary during that period, a portion of those sums was charged against his accrued annual vacation leave.
Hernandez petitioned in January 2015 for recovery of the full amount he should have received as paid leave-of-absence benefits under section 4800.5, plus penalties for unreasonable delay under section 5814, subdivision (a), and interest.
The WCJ agreed Hernandez was entitled to the relief he had requested; but the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board in a divided decision after reconsideration, rescinded her ruling, concluding (1) Hernandez’s claim for reimbursement of accrued leave involved employee benefits and was outside the jurisdiction of the Board; (2) the February 1, 2013 award by the WCJ barred Hernandez’s 2015 claim for additional section 4800.5 payments under the doctrine of res judicata; and (3) there was no basis for awarding a penalty because Hernandez had received the full amount of his salary during the period of his temporary disability.
The Court of Appeal in the published opinion of Hernandez v. WCAB disagreed, and annuled the decision of the Board and remand the matter with directions to award Hernandez additional compensation under section 4800.5 in an amount equal to the value of annual leave used during the disputed period of temporary disability and to hear and determine the issue of penalties and interest.
The Board has exclusive jurisdiction over all proceedings for “the recovery of compensation, or concerning any right or liability arising out of or incidental thereto” (§ 5300, subd. (a)), as well as for “the enforcement against the employer or an insurer of any liability for compensation imposed upon the employer by this division in favor of the injured employee, his or her dependents, or any third person.” (§ 5300, subd. (b); see also § 5301 [Board “is vested with full power, authority and jurisdiction to try and determine finally all the matters specified in Section 5300 subject only to the review by the courts as specified in this division:].)
Section 4800.5, subdivision (d), specifically confers Board jurisdiction to award and enforce payment of the benefits provided CHP officers by that provision of the workers’ compensation laws.
On the issue of jurisdiction over the 4800.5 issue the court went on the say that “In light of this clear violation of Hernandez’s rights under the workers’ compensation laws, the argument the Board lacks jurisdiction to provide a remedy borders on sophistry.”
On the issue of the source of benefits the court concluded that “There can be no dispute that section 4800.5 obligated the CHP to pay Hernandez his full salary, in lieu of disability payments, while he was temporarily disabled…”