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Pacific Hospital of Long Beach Pivots from Comp to Obamacare

The Orange County Register reports that a Santa Fe Springs-based healthcare management company has acquired Pacific Hospital of Long Beach. The move by College Health Enterprises Inc. to purchase Pacific Hospital comes as Pacific Hospital faces state and federal investigations into alleged fraudulent spinal surgeries for workers’ compensation cases.

The deal was confirmed Tuesday evening by John Molina, CFO of Molina Healthcare Inc., and whose Long Beach-based company will be involved in managing the community hospital at 2776 Pacific Ave., a first in its portfolio of businesses. Molina said he expects the hospital to expand with the rollout of Obamacare, which is designed to give medical service to low-income people. “The focus of Pacific Hospital is to create access to what before had been barriers,” he said.

Financial terms of the acquisition by College Health, which was founded in 1986 and operates hospitals in Cerritos and Costa Mesa, were not disclosed. The deal became effective at midnight Tuesday, said Molina. As of late Tuesday, Barry J. Weiss, president of College Health, hadn’t returned a phone call seeking comment.

Molina Healthcare, a managed care insurer specializing in Medicaid-eligible families and individuals, said it will form a separate business unit to manage College Health’s acute-care services at Pacific Hospital. The new Molina Healthcare unit is to be called American Family Care Hospital Management, Molina said.

Molina said the newly created business unit will retain more than 300 of Pacific Hospital’s 700 workers. He was uncertain how many of the employees College Health will keep.

As part of the deal, College Health is to run two of Pacific Hospital’s psychiatric units. One is located at the main campus, with a smaller one located at Pacific Avenue and Pacific Coast Highway.

In June, the State Compensation Insurance Fund filed a complaint in federal court in Santa Ana claiming Pacific Hospital of Long Beach and other entities affiliated with it have been running scams for years to illegally boost payments for medical services provided to injured workers. SCIF wants to recoup some of the $160 million it has paid over the past dozen years under civil statutes used to prosecute organized crime syndicates. The Fund filed the federal lawsuit under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act against Pacific Hospital owners Michael D. Drobot Sr. and his son Michael R. Drobot Jr., the principals of HealthSmart Pacific, and several companies they operate, alleging five different schemes to illegally boost payments by the insurance fund.

The fund uncovered the alleged schemes after it launched an investigation into Pacific Hospital’s bills. It had learned of reports that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had served search warrants at the hospital and an affiliated entity, Industrial Pharmacy Management.

Brown Signs Law Banning Professional Athlete Claims

Gov. Jerry Brown has signed into law a bill that will prevent many professional athletes from filing workers’ compensation claims in California.

The bill, AB 1309, applies to athletes who played for teams outside of California or had limited experience playing on California teams. According to the story in the Los Angeles Times, they will no longer be allowed to make claims in the Golden State for cumulative trauma, a category of injury incurred over time that includes arthritis as well as certain brain injuries like chronic traumatic encepalopathy.

In recent years, thousands of athletes who played for teams elsewhere in the country have filed such claims in California because its workers’ compensation system – unlike many others – recognizes cumulative trauma. In addition, the state’s statute of limitations had a provision allowing some workers to file years or even decades after retirement. Some players made filings having played only a handful of games in California over the course of their careers.

Backers of the bill, including the National Football League, Major League Baseball and the other major sports leagues, argued that such filings were overly costly and that the athletes should be filing in their home states. “This new law sets reasonable standards to close an expensive loophole unique to California and to professional sports,” Dennis Kuhl, chairman of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim baseball team, said in a statement.

Opponents, among them the players’ unions and organized labor, argued that it unfairly excludes one class of workers from the state’s system. Flight attendants and truck drivers – who also spend time in California, though they may not be employed in the state – will still be allowed to file such claims. In addition, they argued that the players were filing in California because they were prevented from making such claims in the states where they played, either due to a more restrictive statute of limitations or because the state doesn’t recognize cumulative trauma.

Although some high-profile athletes, including NFL Hall-of-Famer Deion Sanders and MLB most valuable player Juan Gonzalez, have made such claims, claims data show that most claims by athletes were filed by lesser-known professionals, including many who played only in the minor leagues.

The new law applies only to football, baseball, basketball, ice hockey and soccer players. Under a provision adopted shortly prior to its passage in the Senate in late August, it is effective as of Sept. 15, meaning any claims filed after that date by out-of-state athletes will not be valid.

AB 1309 passed overwhelmingly in both houses of the state legislature, garnering only five “no” votes in its final version.

The legislative victory follows news last month that the NFL had reached a tentative $765-million settlement with more than 4,500 former players who had sued the league over allegations that it did not properly warn them about the risks associated with concussions.

Glendale Medical Management Company Owner Indicted in $13 Million Fraud Case

The former owner of a Los Angeles medical clinic management company has been indicted for his role in a $13 million scheme to defraud Medicare.

Mikran “Mike” Meguerian, 36, of Glendale, California, was indicted in the Central District of California on one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and five counts of health care fraud, each of which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison upon conviction. Meguerian was arrested on September 26, 2013, and the indictment was unsealed following his initial appearance in federal court on September 27, 2013.

According to court documents, Meguerian owned Med Serve Management, a medical clinic management company located in Van Nuys, California. From approximately 2006 through February 2009, he allegedly engaged in a conspiracy to commit health care fraud, in part through the operation of Med Serve.

According to court documents, Meguerian oversaw several medical clinics that generated prescriptions and other medical documents for medically unnecessary power wheelchairs and other durable medical equipment (DME). Meguerian and his co-conspirators then sold the prescriptions to DME supply companies, knowing that the prescriptions were fraudulent. Court documents allege that, based on these fraudulent prescriptions, the DME supply companies then submitted false and fraudulent claims to Medicare.

Court documents allege that fraudulent prescriptions from Meguerian’s clinics were instrumental in generating approximately $13.6 million in fraudulent claims to Medicare, and Medicare paid approximately $7.6 on those claims.

The case was investigated by the FBI and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California. This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Fred Medick and Blanca Quintero of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.

Court of Appeal Annuls Serious and Willful Misconduct Award

Jorge Mora was working as a carpenter for CLP Resources Inc. in 2009 when he was directed to use a table saw unsecured to a base and lacking a protective guard. He stepped on debris, lost his balance, and placed his hand on the unguarded table saw blade. Mora sustained serious cuts to his left hand. Mora filed an application for an award under Labor Code section 4553, which grants additional benefits to a worker who is injured by the “serious and willful misconduct” of his employer. Mora’s first theory alleged the injury was due to the willful failure of the employer to provide a safe place of work. His second theory alleged that the employer had knowingly violated a safety order in directing this work.

Mora testified he had 13 to 15 years’ work experience as a carpenter. He began work for CLP, a temporary placement agency, in April 2008, and had been assigned to several different jobsites prior to his accident. Mora was supervised by Lieb, who provided his tools and told him what to do. CLP had instructed Mora to contact Marlo Vasquez, a CLP employee, if “here was a problem, or if anything was not right,” On direct examination, Mora testified he told Vasquez “here were a lot of things that were not right on the job site where he was working”and Vasquez “should check it out.” As Mora was about to list the specific safety problems, however, Vasquez told him “there was no work, and he should just be careful.” After that, Vasquez turned back to his computer and gave Mora no opportunity to provide more information. No one from CLP came to inspect the site. Mora acknowledged he had not told anyone at CLP specifically about the unsecured, unguarded table saw, although he said it was one of the safety problems he intended to discuss with Vasquez.

The only CLP employee to testify was a company safety official. He said CLP inspects the work sites of the contractors to whom its employees are assigned and had inspected the Lieb jobsite in October 2008, about two months prior to Mora’s injury. In the inspection, CLP had found no safety violations. If the unguarded table saw was present, it was not located by the inspector, although it had been “mentioned by the individuals who previously worked on the job site.” The employee speculated the inspector might have missed the table saw because Lieb removed his tools from the site each day to prevent theft.

CLP was cited by Cal-OSHA for having an inadequate injury and illness prevention program and for the hazardous state of the table saw. Cal-OSHA ultimately reduced the proposed penalty against CLP, possibly after concluding that CLP was unaware of the hazardous nature of the saw.

The WCJ found that Mora’s injury was proximately caused by the willful and serious misconduct of CLP and awarded appropriate damages under Labor Code section 4553. In explaining her decision, the WCJ found the use of an unguarded table saw to be “an inherently dangerous proposition” likely to cause serious injury and noted Cal-OSHA had cited both CLP and Lieb for use of the unsafe saw. Although she found “no clear evidence that management representatives at CLP . . . knowingly violated the safety order” and “no[] evidence that a CLP managing representative ‘turned his mind’ to the dangerous situation here.”

Reconsideration was denied. The Court of Appeal annulled the serious and willful award in the unpublished case of CLP Resources v. WCAB (Mora).

The mere failure to perform a statutory duty is not, alone, willful misconduct. It amounts only to simple negligence. To constitute ‘willful misconduct’ there must be actual knowledge, or that which in the law is esteemed to be the equivalent of actual knowledge, of the peril to be apprehended from the failure to act, coupled with a conscious failure to act to the end of averting injury. “The inadequate inspection cited by the WCJ and the Appeals Board as misconduct could not have constituted the type of intentional conduct required for liability under Labor Code section 4553.”

Owner of Rental Property is Employer of Friend Hired to Paint Eaves.

Lloyd Ings was a retired telephone worker living in Simi Valley. He owns two triplexes in west Los Angeles to supplement his retirement income. Ings purchased one triplex in 1957 and the other in 1963. Matthias Bussard was Ings former neighbor. They became friends in 1999. Bussard lost his job as a mortgage broker at Wells Fargo Bank in March 2009.

In August, 2009, Ings agreed to pay Bussard $20 per hour to paint the eaves on one of the triplexes. On the first day of painting, Bussard walked backwards off the roof and sustained injuries. Bussard acknowledged there was nothing defective about the roof; he simply misjudged the size of it.

Ings paid Bussard’s medical bills for a period of time, but stopped when it became too expensive. Bussard then filed this lawsuit against Ings. Bussard’s complaint contained three causes of action: (1) premises liability; (2) general negligence; and (3) “uninsured employer liability (Labor Code[,] § 3706 et seq.).”

Ings filed a motion for summary judgment. The trial court ruled that Bussard was not an employee of Ings for purposes of Workers’ Compensation, and so Ings had no duty to purchase such insurance and no liability under Labor Code section 3706. The court also ruled Bussard was not an employee for purposes of Cal-OSHA and so Ings had no duty to comply with Cal-OSHA requirements. Because it was undisputed the fall was not due to any defect in the roof, the court ruled Ings had no liability for negligence. The court granted Ings’s motion for summary judgment.

The Court of Appeal reversed in the unpublished case of Bussard v. Ings.

Section 2750.5 establishes a “rebuttable presumption” that a worker performing services for which a license is required is an “employee rather than an independent contractor” for purposes of workers’ compensation.

A person is an “employee” for purposes of Cal-OSHA if he is directed by an employer “to engage in any employment.” (Lab. Code, § 6304.1, subd. (a).) “‘Employment’ includes the carrying on of any trade, enterprise, project, industry, business, occupation, work . . . except household domestic service.” (Lab. Code, § 6303, subd. (b).) “OSHA does not define ‘household domestic service.’ Nor does the relevant legislative history offer any guidance on the meaning of the phrase.”

“[O]wnership and rental of a house by an individual for the purpose of supplemental income, when such owner has no particular or principal business, is not a business within the contemplation of the [Workers’ Compensation] Act.” (Stewart v. WCAB, supra, 172 Cal.App.3d at pp. 354, 355-356.)

The Workers’ Compensation Act has different language and a different history than Cal-OSHA. Both sets of laws trace their roots to legislation passed in 1913 and originally used the term “household domestic service” to refer to a class of excluded employees. There, the similarities end. Workers’ compensation contained an additional excluded class of employees consisting of any person whose duties were “both casual and not in the usual course of the trade, business, profession or occupation of his employer.”

Bussard’s work may have qualified as maintenance work. However, Ings’s income-producing triplexes are not the equivalent of a private home. He does not live in either triplex and they are not located on the premises or grounds of his home. The above regulations suggest that Bussard’s maintenance work on Ings’s rental property is not “domestic household service.”

Copy Service Fee Schedule Report Recommends $103.55 Flat Lump Sum Fee

The Commission on Health and Safety and Workers’ Compensation (CHSWC) has released on its website for public comment and feedback the report, “Formulating a Copy Services Fee Schedule.”

Senate Bill (SB) 863 requires the Administrative Director of the Division of Workers’ Compensation, in consultation with CHSWC, to adopt a copy services fee schedule. In 2013, CHSWC worked with Berkeley Research Group of Emeryville, CA to analyze copy services practices in the workers’ compensation system, review pricing options and prepare a report summarizing relevant fees in the marketplace and policy issues that may be addressed during the rulemaking process.

The Commission spoke to a number of different stakeholders involved in the procuring, preparation of and payment for copying and related services. It became clear almost immediately that the system was riven with distrust and that it had essentially broken down, with each side feeling justified in its approach to pricing. Applicant copy services accuse payers of unreasonable delay or refusal, and they build the cost of collections and bad debts into their fees. Payers accuse the applicant copy services of puffing the bills, and they reject the bills or offer only discounted payments.

The report says that it is essential to break this vicious cycle of inefficiency, which is why it is proposing a lump sum payment system. The report therefore recommends a flat fee schedule to cover all costs related to obtaining and reproducing a set of records up to 1,000 pages if the bill is paid timely and without dispute, and a higher fee to include the additional business expenses if the bill has to go into collection or dispute resolution. It also concluded that the major costs of providing documents copies were the costs of retrieving the documents, rather than the actual per page copy costs, which is one reason why a lump sum payment proposal disregards the number of pages in a copy set. The cost of each initial copy set should be $103.55. Additional copy sets should be made available at $.10 per page if paper and for a nominal lump sum fee of $5.00 if electronic.The advantage of a flat rate is to simplify the process, as well as to reduce the number of areas of potential disagreement between Applicant copy services and payers.

In order to prevent abuses of the new system, CHSWC recommend requiring that each subpoena be supported by the declaration of the attorney seeking documents that the subpoena was issued in good faith, is not duplicative and seeks documents necessary to pursue the applicant’s claim.

The report recommend requiring the use of a registered service to qualify for payment. Registered copiers cannot be convicted felons, must have a notary public involved in the management, must be bonded, must carry an identification card issued by the county clerk, and are statutorily responsible for maintaining the integrity and confidentiality of information obtained (Business & Professions Code section 22450 et seq.). This would be one way of trying to protect injured workers’ privacy as well as possibly reducing unprofessional practices.

CHSWC invites public comment and feedback by email at or in writing to: Commission on Health and Safety and Workers’ Compensation (CHSWC).\1515 Clay Street, 17th Floor Oakland, CA 94612 or Fax at (510) 622-3265 through October 15, 2013 and by oral comments at the CHSWC meeting on October 17, 2013. Additional opportunities for public comment will be available when the Administrative Director begins the rulemaking process to establish a copy services fee schedule.

Comp Exclusive Remedy Does Not Bar $900K Discrimination Award

In April 2004,Plaintiff Louise Pena was hired by Defendant Central Freight Lines, Inc. at its Hayward, California terminal. Pena’s job was a customer service representative.

In late February 2008, Central hired a new terminal manager, Aaron Holstein, at its Hayward Facility. On March 14, 2008, three weeks after hiring Holstein, Pena was injured in an automobile incident on her way to work. At approximately 5:30 am on highway 80 a large metal bar crashed through the windshield of her car barely missing her head, smashed the rear window and landed in the back seat. Later that day Pena called Holstein and notified him that she had hurt her back and neck and was in pain. Holstein asked her to keep Central informed as to her medical condition and when she would be returning to work. On several occasions Pena provided status information to her employer.

Based upon her regular status reports, the trial court concluded that the employer “knew or should have known and understood that Plaintiff had a serious health condition that entitled her to medical disability leave under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) and Defendant knew or should have known that Pena was entitled to a reasonable accommodation under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).”

Instead, on Tuesday, March 25, 2008, Holstein recommended in a memorandum to his supervisors, that Pena be terminated. This memorandum also states that Pena was experiencing migraine headaches and her doctor had taken her off work. Holstein’s memorandum indicates his dissatisfaction with her attendance, specifically mentioning March14, 17 and 25, 2008 which were protected leave dates. On March 28, 2008 Holstein and Central’s Human Resources Department executed Pena’s Notice of Separation. The form Separation Notice contained 21 possible categories for termination. The Defendant marked the category ‘absenteeism’ as the reason for Pena’s termination. No other category was marked.

On Monday, April 1, 2008, Pena returned to work without any limitations or restrictions and able to perform all the essential functions of her job. She brought with her written medical certifications confirming that she had been totally unable to work from March 14 to March 31, and that she had been under the doctor’s professional care. Holstein suspended her and sent her home and told her to call in every day to determine whether there was work for her, even though Holstein knew that he would not be offering Pena any work. The trial Court found that there was plenty of work to do in the customer service department at that time.

She sued Central under the Fair Housing and Employment Act (Gov. Code, § 12900 et seq. (FEHA)) and in a non-jury trial, prevailed on all of her causes of action. The court awarded Pena $470,000 in economic and noneconomic damages and $431,884.25 in attorneys’ fees. The award was affirmed by the Court of Appeal in the unpublished case of Pena vs Central Freight Lines. Inc.

On appeal Central claimed that emotional distress damages arising from job loss are barred by the exclusive remedy provisions of the workers’ compensation law. The court ruled that this argument was correct as a general matter, but wrong in this case. “Emotional distress caused by misconduct in employment relations involving, for example, promotions, demotions, criticism of work practices, negotiations as to grievances, is a normal part of the employment environment. A cause of action for such a claim is barred by the exclusive remedy provisions of the workers’ compensation law. [Citations.] The Legislature, however, did not intend that an employer be allowed to raise the exclusivity rule for the purpose of deflecting a claim of discriminatory practices. [Citations.] Thus, a claim for emotional and psychological damage, arising out of employment, is not barred where the distress is engendered by an employer’s illegal discriminatory practices.”

DWC Announces Closure of Goleta Courtrooms – CAAA Objects

Citing savings to the State, the DWC announced last month that the Goleta WCAB District Office will close and merge with the Oxnard office on November 30. The last day that hearings will be scheduled in Goleta will be Friday, November 29.

All cases currently in Goleta will be transferred to the Oxnard District Office, approximately 45 miles south. The seven DWC employees in Goleta will also transfer to the Oxnard office. The DWC claims that Goleta closure will consolidate resources and create savings for future DWC needs, including hiring. Oxnard has sufficient space to accommodate the Goleta staff, who will begin work there on Monday, December 2.

And the California Applicant Attorneys Association is not thrilled with the consolidation. It has called upon the DWC to either reverse its decision to close the Goleta WCAB at the end of November, or, at a minimum, continue to hold hearings in Goleta on injured workers’ insurance claims.

“The planned closure of the Goleta WCAB will impose considerable hardship on injured workers, particularly those without the ability to travel nearly one hour to Ventura or San Luis Obispo counties to pursue their insurance claims. For example, there is no public transportation that would get injured workers to Oxnard for an 8:30am hearing, which is customary,” said Jill Singer, CAAA Central Coast Chapter president. “We call for the DWC to keep this board office open, or at a minimum, continue to hold hearings in Goleta, so that workers have access to the justice they deserve.”

Singer said that area workers would now have no office in the area’s largest population center, the Santa Barbara area, and would have to travel up to 100 miles to pursue their workers’ compensation insurance claims for medical care and disability compensation for their work injuries, “There was no public notice of this decision. The area’s largest employer is UC Santa Barbara, so closing the Goleta board will affect employers who will also have to spend hours traveling to and from a faraway board for every case hearing. The closure would have great financial consequences for small businesses. Instead of taking an hour or two, or even being on call if their testimony is necessary, employers are now going to have to take up to a day or more off work to travel to Oxnard for hearings and trials.”

Newly elected CAAA President Jim Butler said, “The DWC reduced employers’ assessments to pay for the system of reviewing injured workers’ claims, and is now closing this regional board. This reduces injured workers’ access to the State’s system to pursue medical care and disability compensation. We call upon the DWC to reverse this decision, or to follow its precedent in Palm Springs, Ukiah and Bishop, and continue to hold hearings on work injury cases in Goleta after closing its permanent office there.”

CAAA said the closure will impact the poorest and most seriously injured workers the most, as there is no adequate or efficient transportation for those without cars. The closure would especially harm the large number of farmworkers – and farmers – in this agricultural area. “Injured workers would have to spend multiple hours on public transportation to travel to Oxnard or San Luis Obispo, which is most difficult for the most severely injured,” said Singer.

DWC Director Sees Some “Gaming” the System

Ten months after “historic reforms” were made to California’s workers’ compensation system there is evidence that the changes are taking hold, however bad actors continue to find ways to game the system, said Department of Industrial Relations Director Christine Baker. Baker, who’s considered one of the state’s top labor officials and oversees the Department of Workers’ Compensation, offered an update on Senate Bill 863 during the California Workers’ Compensation and Risk Conference in Dana Point on Wednesday.

The Insurance Journal article says that the annual three-day conference was attended by a broad swath of professionals with interest in workers’ comp, including insurance agents, insurers, attorneys, interpreting services, investigative agencies, medical provider networks and billing services.

The theme of this year’s conference was “Surf’s Up! Navigating the ‘Waves of Change’ in Risk Management.” The conference included an expo, several panels and guest speakers. Other keynote speakers included motivational speaker Bethany Hamilton, a professional surfer and shark attack survivor. The conference ends Friday.

Baker was one of a handful of people who hammered out the workers’ comp reform passed literally at the 12th hour as Legislative session was ending in 2012.She told the crowd it was too early to tell if some reforms were having an effect, although immediate results were seen in the form of a 30 percent increase in permanent disability indemnity rates for workers phased in over two years and lien reform.

Under SB 863, liens for reasonable medical expenses incurred by or on behalf of the injured employee are subject to a filing fee of $150. For liens filed before Jan. 1, there will be a $100 activation fee which must be paid prior to Jan. 1, 2014, or the lien will be subject to dismissal. The fees were intended to reduce the hundreds of thousands of liens filled each year costing the system hundreds-of-millions of dollars, according to SB 863 backers. However some of those reforms may have pushed people to file liens quicker to get them in on time, while other reforms may have prompted quicker resolution of ongoing workers’ comp disputes to get them out of the way before reforms kick in.

Some believe that activity may be the impetus for the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau decision to pursue a suggested hike in California’s advisory workers’ compensation rates of nearly 7 percent. The filing will propose advisory pure premium rates that average $2.70 per $100 of payroll, 6.9 percent higher than the industry average filed pure premium rate of $2.53 as of July 1. There were also significant front-end costs created by SB 863, which included the increased benefits for injured workers, and the newly created independent medical review and bill review processes. Baker said it’s not clear the reforms prompted WCIRB’s decision. “It may not have anything to do with SB 863,” she said. However, she said it’s possible the increased loss experience in workers’ comp may be due to “things getting closed quicker.”

Addressing the independent medical review and independent bill review processes – IMR and IBR – Baker said she believes there are already people attempting to find loopholes, or take advantage of any weaknesses in the system. “I’m going to assume there’s some gaming,” she said. “There’s a little bit of evidence of that going on right now.” However, she didn’t elaborate about what activities are cluing her and her staff into that activity, or just what those activities are. Despite the gaming, Baker said there is evidence the IMR process, which she noted uses “evidence-based” facts to resolve disputes, is working. According to her, 73 percent of IMR applications have been denied. “IMR represents a major paradigm shift for stakeholders in the workers’ comp community,” she said.

Court of Appeal Denies Request to Remove WCAB Case to Superior Court

April Williams was employed by The Home Depot. In 2003, she was injured on the job. Williams claimed workers’ compensation benefits and in December 2005, the parties signed a “Stipulation and Award and/or Order” by which The Home Depot agreed to provide “benefits and treatment [to Williams] in accordance with the opinions of the AME, Dr. Abeliuk.” Thereafter, Williams received medical treatment, including surgeries;

Williams disagrees that her condition is permanent and stationary, and claims she was “forced” to settle her claim; She made several appeals to the WCAB but the case has not resolved.

She then filed a pro-per request for removal of her case to the superior court,

Williams claimed in her civil action that the WCAB failed to require that she receive prompt and adequate medical treatment; She also claimed the WCAB allowed The Home Depot to hold her in involuntary servitude; Williams asserted that removal of her pending workers’ compensation matter to the superior court was necessary because she is mentally disabled, Her requests to the Department of Industrial Relations for reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act were not granted, and hence she claims her due process and civil rights have been violated;

Following a hearing, the trial court denied the request for removal, concluding that it has no jurisdiction over the matter. Williams appealed. The Court of Appeal sustained the dismissal in the unpublished case of Williams v. Home Depo.

The Court of Appeal concluded that the “trial court correctly ruled that it lacked jurisdiction to remove the workers’ compensation matter to the superior court.”

Labor Code 5955 provides, “No court of this state, except the Supreme Court and the courts of appeal to the extent herein specified, has jurisdiction to review, reverse, correct, or annul any order, rule, decision, or award of the [WCAB], or to suspend or delay the operation or execution thereof, or to restrain, enjoin, or interfere with the appeals board in the performance of its duties,” and gives the appellate courts the power to issue a writ of mandate “in all proper cases.”