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On March 27, 2024, the Appeals Board issued its opinion in Sandra Ja’Chim Scheuing v Lawrence Livermore National Library -ADJ8655364; -ADJ14830172, and designated it as a significant panel decision.

Significant panel decisions are not binding precedent in workers’ compensation proceedings; however, they are intended to augment the body of binding appellate court and en banc decisions and, therefore, a panel decision is not deemed “significant” unless, among other things: (1) it involves an issue of general interest to the workers’ compensation community, especially a new or recurring issue about which there is little or no published case law; and (2) all Appeals Board members have reviewed the decision and agree that it is significant.

In Ja’Chim Scheuing, the Appeals Board discussed its approach to cases where a petition for reconsideration is timely filed, but the case is not timely received by the Appeals Board, and clarified that the Appeals Board will continue to follow the long-time precedent in Shipley v. Workers’ Comp. Appeals Bd. (1992) 7 Cal.App.4th 1104, 1108 [57 Cal.Comp.Cases 493].

Sandra Ja’Chim Scheuing requested reconsideration of the Findings & Award issued by a WCJ who found her injury caused permanent disability of 28%. Applicant contends on reconsideration that she is 100% permanently and totally disabled, and that the WCJ failed to fully consider all of the medical and vocational evidence in making his determination. In this case, the WCJ issued the Findings & Award on December 1, 2023, and applicant filed a timely Petition for Reconsideration on December 18, 2023 at the Oakland district office. As required by Rule 10205.4 (Cal. Code Regs., tit. 8, § 10205.4).

Her paper Petition was scanned into the Electronic Adjudication Management System (EAMS). (See Cal. Code Regs., tit. 8, §10206 [electronic document filing rules], § 10205.11 [manner of filing of documents].)  When a petition is filed, a task is sent to the WCJ through EAMS so that the WCJ receives notice that a Report is required. (See Cal. Code Regs., tit. 8, §10206; 10962.) No such notice is provided to the Appeals Board. Thereafter, the district office electronically transmits the case to the Appeals Board through EAMS and notifies the Appeals Board that it has been transmitted.

There are 25 days allowed within which to file a petition for reconsideration from a “final” decision that has been served by mail upon an address in California. (Lab. Code, §§ 5900(a), 5903; Cal. Code Regs., tit. 8, § 10507(a)(1).) This time limit is extended to the next business day if the last day for filing falls on a weekend or holiday. (Cal. Code Regs., tit. 8, § 10508.) To be timely, however, a petition for reconsideration must be filed (i.e., received) within the time allowed; proof that the petition was mailed (posted) within that period is insufficient. (Cal. Code Regs., tit. 8, §§ 10845(a), 10392(a).)

Here, according to Events in EAMS, which functions as the “docket,” although the Petition for Reconsideration was timely filed on December 18, 2023 at the Oakland district office, the district office transmitted the case to the Appeals Board on February 21, 2024. Thus, the first notice to the Appeals Board of the Petition was on February 21, 2024. Thereafter, the WCJ issued the Report on February 27, 2024. Due to this lack of notice by the district office, the Appeals Board failed to act on the Petition within 60 days, through no fault of the parties.

Therefore, considering that applicant filed a timely Petition for Reconsideration and that the Appeals Board’s failure to act on that Petition was a result of administrative error, “we conclude that our time to act on applicant’s Petition was tolled until 60 days after February 21, 2024.”

Once a case is pending at the Appeals Board, parties may not submit new evidence or raise new issues, unless the Appeals Board specifically provides notice and orders further proceedings to consider further evidence and/or issues. (See Lab. Code, §§ 5906, 5907, 5908(a).)

Here, applicant did not seek permission to file supplemental pleadings as required by WCAB Rule 10964. While WCAB Rule 10964 does not require the Appeals Board to accept supplemental pleadings, the Appeals Board may exercise its discretion to accept a supplemental pleading and consider it. Here the WCAB accepted applicant’s letters of February 22, 2024 and March 1, 2024 for filing as supplemental pleadings and considered them.

We believe that as a matter of due process, once a party has confirmed timely filing of a petition under WCAB Rule 10615 (Cal. Code Regs., tit. 8, § 10615), they should be able to reasonably expect that the petition will be considered by the Appeals Board. As explained above, until it is transmitted to the Appeals Board, the case remains at the district office level, and all status inquiries should be directed to the district office. When the 60- day period in section 5905 has expired and there has been no response by the Appeals Board, we recommend that the parties contact the district office to confirm that the case has been transmitted to the Appeals Board and that notice was provided to the Appeals Board. Once they have received this confirmation from the district office, they may follow up by email with the Appeals Board’s Control Unit at”

This time limit is jurisdictional and therefore, the Appeals Board has no authority to act upon or consider an untimely petition for reconsideration. (Maranian v. Workers’ Comp. Appeals Bd. (2000) 81 Cal.App.4th 1068, 1076 [65 Cal.Comp.Cases 650, 656];  Rymer v. Hagler(1989) 211 Cal.App.3d 1171, 1182; Scott v Workers’ Comp. Appeals Bd. (1981) 122 Cal.App.3d 979, 984 [46 Cal.Comp.Cases 1008, 1011]; U.S. Pipe & Foundry Co. v. Industrial Acc. Com. (Hinojoza) (1962) 201 Cal.App.2d 545, 549 [27 Cal.Comp.Cases 73, 75-76].)

In contrast, here, applicant’s Petition for Reconsideration was timely filed on December 18, 2023, seventeen days after the WCJ’s decision of December 1, 2023. Thus, as explained above, the Appeals Board has the authority to act upon the Petition and to consider it.