WCAB: Throwing babies out with the bathwater since 1965
The WCAB: Throwing babies out with the bathwater since 1965

For context, its best to see the prior post about the WCAB’s Weiner v. Ralph’s (en banc) decision.  There’s even a link to the Weiner v. Ralphs (en banc) decision for download – just so you can play along at home.

The question in the title of the post is really a question about the WCAB’s rationale – not their end legal justification behind Weiner.  I believe the Weiner case hints that the WCAB is going to go the other way and uphold their rulings in Almaraz/Guzman and Ogilvie.

However, I think the WCAB’s rationale for ending vocational rehabilitation was because of the potential for enormous retroactive vocational rehabilitation maintenance allowance awards at the temporary total disability rate outside the cap (VRTD).12

  1. Photo courtesy of Stephane Raymond []
  2. You see, I’m suggesting that the bathwater is VRTD and the baby itself is vocational rehabilitation.  Kinda kills the metaphor, eh? []

Weiner v. Ralphs spells the end of rehab
Weiner v. Ralphs spells the end of rehab

The Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board recently solicited amicus briefs regarding the Weiner v. Ralphs case.  After review of the amicus briefs on the topic of the repeal of Labor Code Section 139.5 and vocational rehabilitation, the WCAB has just issued their en banc opinion.1

Download a copy of Weiner v. Ralphs (en banc) right here:

Obviously, you’ll need to read and interpret Weiner v. Ralph’s for yourself.  Here’s the Board’s own summary:

  1. The repeal of section 139.5 terminated any rights to vocational rehabilitation benefits or services pursuant to orders or awards that were not final before January 1, 2009
  2. A saving clause was not adopted to protect vocational rehabilitation rights in cases still pending on or after January 1, 2009
  3. The vocational rehabilitation statutes that were repealed in 2003 do not continue to function as “ghost statutes” on or after January 1, 2009
  4. Effective January 1, 2009, the WCAB lost jurisdiction over non-vested and inchoate vocational rehabilitation claims, but the WCAB continues to have jurisdiction under sections 5502(b)(3) and 5803 to enforce or terminate vested rights; and
  5. Subject matter jurisdiction over non-vested and inchoate vocational rehabilitation claims cannot be conferred by waiver, estoppel, stipulation, or consent.

What does Weiner v. Ralph’s mean to you?

  1. Vocational rehabilitation is gone unless there is a “vested” right by way order that became final prior to 1/1/2009.
  2. If you already have a final order for vocational rehabilitation, the WCAB can still hear a dispute.
  1. Photo courtesy of larryfishkorn []

Appeal (get it?)
Appeal (get it?)

Thanks to our friends at AppealsBoardReporter.com, we now have access to 22 amicus briefs filed in the Ogilvie and Almaraz/Guzman cases. 1 In late March 2009 the WCAB granted reconsideration of their recent Ogilvie and Almaraz/Guzman decisions – and invited the submission of amicus briefs.  You can read and download them here:

Who produced them?  Well, Ogilvie amicus briefs were filed by:

  • Morrow & Morrow
  • International Association of Rehabilitation Professionals
  • The Travelers Companies Inc.
  • Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner
  • California Workers’ Compensation Institute

The Almaraz/Guzman briefs were filed by:

  • California Applicants’ Attorneys Association
  • California Chamber of Commerce-CSAC Excess Insurance Authority
  • County of Los Angeles
  • California Self-Insured Employers Association
  • California Society of Industrial Medicine and Surgery
  • California Workers’ Compensation Institute
  • Department of Industrial Relations Director John Duncan
  • Employers Direct Insurance Company
  • Phil Walker, Esq.
  • Phil Walker, Judicial Notice Request
  • Protected Insurance Program for Schools
  • Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner
  • Safeway Inc.-The Boeing Co.-Schools Insurance Authority
  • San Diego Schools Joint Powers Authority
  • International Association of Rehabilitation Professionals
  • Morrow & Morrow
  • The Travelers Companies Inc.

After reviewing the above list, I have to wonder: Why doesn’t CAAA have an amicus brief for Ogilvie?  Does anyone know?

  1. Photo courtesy of Black Glenn.  Terrible pun courtesy of me. []