Luisa Rodriguez was employed by Kelly Services, and injured her low back, and claimed to have injured her neck, left leg, left hip, psyche, head, bilateral shoulders, and suffered a sleep disorder. Some of her treatment was provided on a lien basis.
Mr. Patrick Christoff executed a section 4903.S(d) declaration on behalf of lien claimants Comprehensive Outpatient Surgery Center (COSC) and Technical Surgery Support (TSS). In both declarations, Mr. Christoff declared under penalty of perjury that “the services or products described in the bill for services or products were actually provided to the injured employee”; and that “the billing statement . . . truly and accurately describes the services and products that were provided to the injured employee.”
At trial the employer objected to the liens and claimed that Mr. Christoff did not have personal knowledge of the facts set forth in the declarations to sign them on behalf of lien claimants.
Christoff testified that he has worked for COSC since 2003 as an attorney, and he collects liens for COSC and TSS. His job duties included understanding billing procedures and codes, reviewing and negotiating bills, and reviewing surgical and medical reports, which includes over 10,000 operative reports. He reviewed these reports to have an understanding of what was billed for what service for each case. He also spoke to pain management doctors to get an understanding of the medical services that had been provided and billed to negotiate billing.
Christoff stated that he reviewed the operative reports to ensure that the description of the services in the operative reports matched the services that were billed in the invoice. Mr. Christoff testified that he relied on the information in the operative reports to determine the accuracy and specificity of the actual billing to ensure that they were the same and matched each other. Mr. Christoff explained that he received education on decompression procedures as well as training on bill review practices; he has reviewed over 10,000 bills. Mr. Christoff testified that he reviewed medical and surgical reports prior to signing his section 4903 .8( d) declarations on September 1, 2017.
On cross-examination, Mr. Christoff testified that he did not have any formal training or classroom instruction on CPT coding; did not attend any seminars in bill review; and did not recall being in the operating room for any of the procedures that were billed. Mr. Christoff testified that he based his declaration on the doctor’s chart notes, and the doctor declared under penalty of perjury that the services were provided on that date.
The WCJ found that Christoff was competent to sign Labor Code section 4903.8(d) declarations on behalf of lien claimants Comprehensive Outpatient Surgery Center (COSC) and Technical Surgery Support (TSS). The decision was affirmed in the panel decision of Rodriguez v Kelly Services.
Here, Mr. Christoff s section 4903.S(d) declarations comply with section 4903.8(d) in that he declared under penalty of perjury the facts found in subsections (d)(l) and (d)(2). Therefore, the burden shifted to defendant to prove that Mr. Christoff’s section 4903.S(d) declarations were invalid.
Defendant argues that lien claimants’ 4903.S(d) declarations are invalid because Mr. Christoff is not competent to testify to the facts in his declarations; in particular, Mr. Christoff does not have “personal knowledge that the billing statement accurately describes the products/services provided to the injured employee and that those products/services were actually performed.”
Although section 4903.8(d) does not define exactly what is meant by the phrase, “competent to testify,” there guidance in Evidence Code section 702, which provides: “A witness’ personal knowledge of a matter may be shown by any otherwise admissible evidence, including his own testimony.”
Here, Mr. Christoff s knowledge of lien claimants’ medical services was based, in part, on Dr. Williams’ medical reports, which Dr. Williams declared and signed under penalty of perjury.
Based on the facts of this case, the WCAB concluded that Mr. Christoff is competent to testify to the facts stated in his section 4903. 8( d) declarations.