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Samreen Riaz began practicing dentistry in the Central Valley in approximately 2013. In 2018, she was terminated from a position of employment with Altura Centers for Health.

In January 2019, Riaz sued Altura for wrongful and retaliatory discharge. That same month, she obtained employment with Family HealthCare Network. Soon thereafter, Riaz was allegedly subjected to “whistleblower retaliation” in the form of a “[p]lanned organized covert stalking and harassment campaign” at Family HealthCare Network. The alleged mistreatment at Family HealthCare Network allegedly occurred because of plaintiff’s “whistleblowing” while employed at Altura, and due to her lawsuit against Altura, but the pleadings in her civil action do not otherwise explain the supposed connection between the two employers.

In March 2019 (about two months into her employment at Family HealthCare Network), Riaz began seeing a psychiatrist (Dr. Sievert) “due to ongoing stress related to [the] serious harassment campaign at work.” She sought and received treatment from Dr. Sievert in a “private capacity,” i.e., outside of the workers’ compensation process. According to plaintiff’s own allegations, Dr. Sievert diagnosed her with having “[d]elusional disorders.”

In approximately September 2019, Riaz sought workers’ compensation benefits for a psychiatric injury allegedly sustained “at work – due to unlawful covert harassment, discrimination and [r]etaliation.” Exhibits to the pleadings list the alleged date of injury as “9/24/19,” but the record is silent as to what occurred on that date.

Psychiatrist Micah Hoffman, M.D.acting in the capacity of a QME, evaluated Riaz and concluded her mental health issues were attributable to a “chronic psychotic illness, [which is] not industrial in nature in any way.” The QME findings and conclusions were documented in a 71-page QME report, which was later relied upon by a workers’ compensation administrative law judge (ALJ). The ALJ found there was no industrial causation for her claimed psychiatric injury.

Approximately three months after being evaluated by QME Micah Hoffman, M.D., in September 2020, Riaz underwent a psychological evaluation performed by Bradley A. Schuyler, Ph.D. This was done in connection with her lawsuit against Altura.

On December 15, 2021, Ruaz filed a pro se complaint against QME Micah Hoffman, M.D., in the Tulare Superior Court. The complaint purported to assert six causes of action labeled as follows: (1) “Medical Malpractice”; (2) “Unprofessional Conduct (Violation of Business and Professional [sic] Code)”; (3) “Professional Negligence”; (4) “Fraud and Misrepresentation”; (5) “Civil RICO 18 U.S.C. § 1964”; and (6) “Vicarious Liability.”

On February 18, 2022, defendant demurred to the complaint which was sustained with leave to amend. The same ruling was made to her second amended complaint, however the trial court sustained defendant’s third demurrer without leave to amend.

The Court of Appeal affirmed in the unpublished case of Riaz v Hoffman – -F085321 (February 2024)

Notwithstanding the issues of forfeiture and inadequate briefing, the Court of Appeal noted that “the trial court’s analysis appears correct.

In King v. CompPartners, Inc. (2018) 5 Cal.5th 1039, the exclusivity rule was held to apply to claims against physicians who render services in the worker’s compensation utilization review process, “under which a [reviewing physician] assesses a treating physician’s recommendation according to a schedule that establishes uniform guidelines for evaluating treatment requests.” (Id. at p. 1047.)

If an alleged injury “arose out of and in the course of utilization review – a statutorily required part of the workers’ compensation claims process [-] to which [the claimant] would not have been subject had he [or she] not suffered a work-related …. injury,” related claims fall within the workers’ compensation exclusivity rule. (Id. at p. 1053.) In other words, “the workers’ compensation system provides the exclusive remedy for otherwise compensable injuries stemming from alleged mistakes in the utilization review process.” (Id. at p. 1060.)

As for the 12th cause of action (mislabeled as a second 11th cause of action in the operative pleading), the FEHA component of plaintiff’s disability claim is meritless since no employment relationship is alleged or suggested as between her and defendant.