Summer is now winding down as we head towards the last quarter of 2019. Mullen & Filippi hopes that you enjoyed a vacation, staycation, or some form of separation from the usual grind this summer. More importantly, we hope the inevitable pile of work you returned to was manageable!
The California Association of Joint Powers Authorities is holding its annual conference from September 10-13 in South Lake Tahoe. The theme is “A New Spin on Classic Pooling,” and the conference promises presentations of interest if you are in any way involved in a public risk-sharing pool’s operations. Mullen & Filippi is a Platinum Sponsor this year and will have several attorneys present to sharpen their tools when it comes to the concerns public risk-sharing pools are faced with in the workers’ compensation system. If you are a claims professional that works with pools, it’s not too late to register at: https://conference.cajpa.org/.
The California Workers’ Compensation and Risk Conference is also coming up from September 3-6 at the Monarch Beach Resort in Dana Point. The theme of the conference is “Wild Wild West.” The conference will be addressing new legal requirements facing California employers, and there will be presentations on cost containment and risk management strategies. The topics include the effects of autonomous driving on workers’ compensation, cannabis and pain management, telemedicine, and ergonomics, to name a few. Mullen & Filippi is a sponsor and will have a booth in the exhibition hall. Registration information can be found at: http://www.cwcriskconference.org/.
WCIRB VOTES TO RECOMMENT RATE CUT IN 2020
The Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau of California recently voted to recommend a reduction in the advisory rate from $1.63 per $100 of payroll to $1.54 for new policies in effect on or after January 1, 2020. Per a recent press release from the WCIRB, this represents the ninth consecutive pure premium rate decrease since 2015, and premium rates are down an overall 44% since that time. Chief Actuary and Executive Vice President Dave Bellusci attributes the reduction to downward trends in loss development (the difference between initial cost projections for a claim and actual final claim costs), acceleration in claim settlements, declining pharmaceutical costs, and continued downward trends in lien filings. In a note of caution, however, he indicated that loss adjustment expenses remain high and that medical and indemnity average claim severities are rising to approach their historical norms. The full article can be found here: https://wcirb.com/news/governing-committee-authorizes-january-1-2020-pure-premium-rate-filing.
GOVERNOR NEWSOM REAPPOINTS MARGUERITE SWEENEY TO WCAB
According to a press release issued by the Governor’s office on July 26, 2019, Marguerite Sweeney, of San Francisco, has been reappointed to the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board, where she has served since her initial appointment in 2012. The full list of gubernatorial appointments is available through the following link:
CHANGE IN SHIFT AND RATE OF PAY ALONE DOES NOT CONSTITUTE 132A DISCRIMINATION
In a recent case, the WCAB held that an employer that was unable to offer an injured worker a return to his prior shift and rate of pay, after the employee was released to work, did not discriminate against the injured worker in violation of Labor Code 132a. In Ingram v. Cedars-Sinai Health System (2019 Cal. Wrk. Comp. P.D. LEXIS 212), the employee was not offered his pre-injury graveyard shift because all positions in that shift were filled while he was off work due to his injury. Upon his release to work, the employer offered the injured worker a different shift that paid nearly $2.00 less per hour. The WCAB found that applicant did not meet his burden of proof or establish that the scheduling decisions and pay rate decisions were made in a discriminatory fashion due to the applicant’s status as an injured worker.
NEW CASE BRIEFS AVAILABLE
The Case Briefs section of our website is a great resource as to case law and statutory interpretation in workers’ compensation, and provides practice pointers, insights into recent cases, and updates on changes in the law. This month, Managing Associate Partner Karly Tambara, Associate Partner Linda Bryan, and Associates Elliott Castaneda and Aaron Salo of our Orange office, collaborated to give a full breakdown of the May 2019 WCAB decision, Wilson v. State of California Cal Fire, which provides guidance as to what defines a catastrophic injury under Labor Code 4660.1(c) when an applicant seeks compensable consequence psychiatric disability indemnity. This case, and a recent additional Opinion and Order from the WCAB in the case, were touched on in the 7/18/2019 Mullen & Filippi Bulletin, but this month’s case brief provides a more thorough companion analysis as to the scope of the original decision and the factors the WCAB set forth for determining when an injury is catastrophic.
Find these along with all of our other case briefs at https://www.mulfil.com/case-briefs/.
This Bulletin was written by Jim Cotter, Associate Partner in our Oakland office.