In the case of the California Workers’ Compensation Interpreters Association et al. v. Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board of the State of California the petition for writ of mandate was denied yesterday by the Court of Appeal. The case was filed pursuant to California Labor Code § 5955 challenging the declaration under penalty of perjury provisions of SB1160, part of the new lien law.
Section 8 of SB 1160 amended Labor Code 4903.05 to require all medical treatment and med-legal lien claimants to file a mandated lien declaration under penalty of perjury that the claimant satisfies at least one of seven new lien claimant requirements. The lawsuit challenged the seventh which required that the lien claimant: “G) Is a certified interpreter rendering services during a medical-legal examination, a copy service providing medical-legal services, or has an expense allowed as a lien under rules adopted by the administrative director. “
The Interpreters argue that they do not “neatly” fit into any of the seven categories, and that section (G), the only one that mentions interpreters, is limited to interpretations during medical-legal events, but nothing is said about interpreting during treatment events. This they say will limit “thousands” of lien claimants from collecting liens since they cannot sign the declaration “without the risk of filing a false declaration.”
The Court of Appeal denied the petition in a terse docket entry that essentially concluded the case was premature since it assumed events in the future that had not yet happened at the WCAB.
The denial said: “Assuming that petitioners possess the requisite beneficial interest (Code Civ. Proc., § 1086), they have not demonstrated that the ordinary lien claims process does not provide an adequate remedy at law. (Phelan v. Superior Court (1950) 35 Cal.2d 363, 366 [“it has long been established as a general rule that the writ will not be issued if another such remedy was available to the petitioner. [Citations.] The burden, of course, is on the petitioner to show that he did not have such a remedy.”]; see Longval v. Workers’ Comp. Appeals Bd. (1996) 51 Cal.App.4th 792, 799-802 [considering due process claim on review of decision of Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board].)”
“Moreover, petitioners have not shown they will suffer irreparable harm absent immediate writ review. (Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center v. Superior Court (2011) 194 Cal.App.4th 288, 299-300 [“Conditions prerequisite to the issuance of a writ are a showing there is no adequate remedy at law . . . and the petitioner will suffer an irreparable injury if the writ is not granted. [Citation.]”].) Requiring petitioners to present their claims to the agency in the first instance does not constitute irreparable harm. (See Ordway v. Superior Court (1988) 198 Cal.App.3d 98, 101, fn. 1 [“A trial does not generally meet the definition of ‘irreparable injury, ‘ being at most an irreparable inconvenience.”], disapproved on other grounds, Knight v. Jewett (1992) 3 Cal.4th 296, 301-315.) Finally, petitioners have not demonstrated that their facial constitutional challenges to Labor Code section 4903.05, subdivision (c) are ripe for review. (Pacific Legal Foundation v. California Coastal Com. (1982) 33 Cal.3d 158, 170-174; see Building Industry Assn. of Bay Area v. City of San Ramon (2016) 4 Cal.App.5th 62, 90 [“Because [facial challenges] often rest on speculation, they may lead to interpreting statutes prematurely, on the basis of a barebones record.”].) “
“They have yet to present any specific lien claim to the agency for adjudication, and therefore the possible disposition of such claims is a matter of conjecture. (See PG & E Corp. v. Public Utilities Com. (2004) 118 Cal.App.4th 1174, 1217 [“Because the PUC has yet to apply its interpretation of the first priority condition to a concrete set of facts, the dispute petitioners would like this court to resolve is abstract.”].)”
“Because petitioners’ claims depend, at least in substantial part, on speculative future events, they are not appropriate for immediate judicial resolution. (Pacific Legal Foundation v. California Coastal Com., supra, 33 Cal.3d at p. 173 [agency guidelines might inhibit property owners from planning improvements to their land, but “the hardship inherent in further delay is not imminent or significant enough to compel an immediate resolution of the merits of plaintiffs’ claims”]; Wilson & Wilson v. City Council of Redwood City (2011) 191 Cal.App.4th 1559, 1582-1583 [courts will decline to adjudicate dispute if they are asked to speculate on the resolution of hypothetical situations]; see also Concerned Citizens Coalition of Stockton v. City of Stockton (2005) 128 Cal.App.4th 70, 83 [writ petition ordinarily will not be granted to reach issues the trial court has not yet addressed, since such issues are not ripe for appellate court review].) “
“We therefore decline to exercise our discretion to entertain writ review of petitioners’ challenges. (See Landau v. Superior Court (1998) 81 Cal.App.4th 191, 201 [“an appellate court retains discretion to summarily deny extraordinary writ petitions on grounds related to the apparent merits of the action as well as upon grounds related to the formal or procedural sufficiency of the petition”].) The parties’ requests for judicial notice are denied as moot.”
It remains to be seen if this was their final or the first in a series of efforts to pursue this theory in response to SB 1160.