Maria Morales filed two claims against her employer. The first was a claim for injury to the left thumb, knees, back, headaches, internal body system, psyche, neck, and “multiples” on September 9, 2000 (ADJ2160716). The second claim was for injury to the internal system, neck, back, knees, upper extremities, psyche, and urinary system through July 31, 2001 (ADJ634371).
On June 13, 2016, the parties entered into a compromise and release in the amount of $118,000.00. Both of applicant’s claims were described in Paragraph One (1 ), but the internal system was not listed as a body part, condition or system being settled in ADJ634371. Below Paragraph Ten (10) of the C&R, the parties drew a star and handwrote, “[r]esolves all liability/claims against American Home Assurance Company/AIG for Lifestyle Furnishings.”
Approximately 26 days later, applicant notified defendant that she did not believe that the compromise and release resolved the claimed injury to her internal system.
On May 22, 2017, the matter proceeded to trial on the issue of whether the compromise and release barred applicant’s claim of injury to her internal system.
The WCJ found that the “Compromise and Release Agreement entered into on June 13, 2016 by AIG Property and Casualty (AIG) resolves applicant’s internal claim of injury in addition to all other claims of injury resolved by that agreement” and that the “claims filed against AIG were fully resolved by the Order Approving Compromise and Release dated June 13, 2016.”
The WCAB granted reconsideration, and reversed, finding that applicant’s claim of internal injury was not resolved as part of the June 13, 2016 Compromise and Release in the panel decision of Morales v. Universal Furniture, AIG.
The parties must clearly identify each injury and list the corresponding body parts in Paragraph One (1) because that section requires that the parties state “with specificity the date(s) of injury(ies) and what part(s) of body, conditions or systems are being settled.” (C&R, Paragraph One (1), p. 3, emphasis added.) Further Paragraph One (1) also states that “[b]ody parts, conditions and systems may not be incorporated by reference to medical reports.” (Id. at pp. 3, 4, 5, emphasis in original.) Paragraph One (1)· allows the parties to clearly identify the settlement of multiple injuries with corresponding body parts by requiring that the parties list the case number, the type of injury, the date of injury and the settled body parts. (Id.)
Therefore, if parties wish to settle multiple injuries to the same body part, the parties must list that body part under the description of each injury, and the parties may not settle multiple injuries to one body part by listing the body part under the description of one injury but not another.
In Jefferson v. Dept. of Youth Authority (2002) 28 Cal.4th 299 [67 Cal.Comp.Cases 727], the Supreme Court held that a general release in a workers’ compensation case will bar other potential claims against the employer that exist at the time of execution of the release unless the employee knows about the claim and expressly excepts it from the release. (Id. at p. 310.) However, approximately six years after the Supreme Court decided that case, the compromise and release form was revised to prevent overbroad releases and thus further the legislative intent of protecting workers who might agree to unfortunate compromises because of economic pressure or lack of competent advice.
The release in Paragraph Two (2) of that form states in relevant part, Upon approval of this compromise agreement . . . and payment in accordance with the provisions hereof, the employee releases and forever discharges the above named employer(s) and insurance carrier(s) from all claims and causes of action, whether now known or ascertained or which may hereafter arise or develop as a result of the above-referenced injury(ies) …
This release does not bar applicant’s claimed internal injury because it is limited to the settlement described in Paragraph One (1), and as discussed above, that paragraph did not settle the claimed internal injury.