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Allen Levrault claimed to have incurred continuous trauma injuries while employed as a professional baseball player for various teams. His paying history within the CT period was stipulated to be the Milwaukee Brewers June 10, 1996 to February 1, 2002 – – Oakland Athletics February 1, 2002 to October 15, 2002 – – Miami Marlins December 12, 2002 to October 15, 2003  – – and the Seattle Mariners April 14, 2004 to May 18, 2004.  Levrault resolved his claim with the Brewers by way of Compromise and Release for the sum of $3,000.

The WCJ concluded that there was no subject-matter jurisdiction over the Seattle Mariners, and that applicant cannot recover against the Miami Marlins based upon the reciprocity provisions of former Labor Code section 3600.5(b).

Reconsideration was granted in the panel decision of Levrault v Mariners, Marlins et. al. (April 2022) ADJ8763377.

Applicant contends that the WCJ erred in finding reciprocity under section 3600.5(b), because Florida’s reciprocity statute was not in effect at the time of his employment with the Marlins, and also that the WCJ should have admitted medical records submitted after the Mandatory Settlement Conference.

Labor code 3600.5 limits the general principles of WCAB jurisdiction in specific circumstances. Because applicant’s claim was filed prior to September 15, 2013, the relevant subdivision here is former section 3600.5(b).

Because Florida passed its reciprocity statute in 2011, after applicant’s injurious exposure but prior to the filing of his California compensation claim, the parties’ disagreement focuses on whether former section 3600.5(b)’s reciprocity requirements must be satisfied at the time of the injurious exposure, or whether it is sufficient that reciprocity exists at the time a claim is filed.

Here, the plain language of former section 3600.5(b) requires that the conditions for application of the exemption – including the reciprocity provisions of subdivision (b)(1)(A) & (B) – apply “while such employee is temporarily within this state doing work for his or her employer[.]” (former § 3600.5(b)(1), emphasis added.)

Accordingly, the exemption is not applicable to applicant’s claim.This result is in accord with past panel decisions such as in Roberts v. Tampa Bay Lightning (2016) ADJ9065158, 2016 Cal. Wrk. Comp. P.D. LEXIS 404.

Turning to the jurisdiction issue, the WCJ made clear that even if subdivision (b) of section 3600.5 does not apply to applicant’s claim, she would have found the claim barred by Federal Insurance Co. v. Workers’ Comp. Appeals Bd. (Johnson) (2013) 221 Cal.App.4th 1116, because applicant’s employment with the Marlins did not constitute a significant connection or nexus with the State of California.

Here, applicant testified – and defendants do not contest – that he was regularly employed in California during 1998 and 2002 while playing for the Ports and the River Cats, minor league affiliates of the Brewers and the Athletics respectively.

This constitutes a sufficient relationship between applicant’s injuries and the State of California to satisfy the Johnson due process requirement of a significant nexus between applicant’s injuries and this state.

Turning to the issue of the admissibility of post MSC medical reports. the WCJ, the most important reason she decided to find these reports inadmissible was a belief that applicant’s attorney had misled the court about applicant’s ability to appear for the original July 2017 trial date; the WCJ continued the matter as a result of representations from applicant’s attorney that applicant could not travel to California for trial because of his recent surgery, but applicant did in fact travel to California during that very period to obtain the post-surgery QME reports in question.

In resolving this issue the panel stated “Although we sympathize with the WCJ’s frustration at what appears to have been at the very minimum extremely questionable representations from applicant’s counsel, we disagree that the remedy here was to refuse to admit medical evidence that appears undoubtedly relevant to assessing applicant’s level of disability. If the WCJ believed that applicant’s attorney had misled the court in order to obtain a continuance of the trial under false pretenses, the remedy for that was sanctions against applicant’s attorney, pursuant to section 5813.”