MAY TRENDS

Memorial Day stands as a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made by women and men in uniform who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the freedoms we all cherish.  To those who have served, we thank you!

With Memorial Day weekend behind us, understanding the intricacies of the workers’ compensation system has never been more crucial.  With our adaptation to technological advancements and shifting expectations, it is as important as ever to stay abreast of new regulations and emerging trends.  With this in mind, we hope to provide some insight into the latest developments for both employers and employees.

DWC ANNOUNCES PLAN FOR CORRECTIVE ACTION FOR E-FILING ERRORS

On May 14, 2024, the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) announced plans to address e-filing practices that result in repeated errors in EAMS, the DWC’s electronic case management system.  As noted by the DIR, these errors can cause significant delays in document processing.

According to the DIR, the DWC’s corrective actions will include, but are not limited to, suspension or removal of e-filing privileges and/or sanctions on parties who disregard the e-filing instructions, regulations, and document discrepancy notifications.

The DIR reports that the most common e-filing errors are the following:

  • Using incorrect document titles for filing or submitting documents with incorrectly titled attachments.
  • Making duplicate submissions of documents already in EAMS FileNet.
  • Repeatedly making failed batches to the UDQ.
  • Filing duplicative documents, both electronically and by hard-copy.

Over the next few months, the DWC will assess users who repeatedly breach the EAMS rules and guidelines.  Users who are notified of a potential suspension or revocation of their e-filing privileges will be given an opportunity to take corrective action before the measures are enforced.

DWC Announces Plans to Take Corrective Action Regarding E-Filer Errors | California Department of Industrial Relations

ASSEMBLY PASSES E-SIGNATURE LEGISLATION

As noted in a recent WorkCompCentral article, the California Assembly unanimously passed AB 2337, which would allow electronic signatures in workers’ compensation proceedings.  On May 2, 2024, the Assembly voted unanimously to pass AB 2337, by Assembly member Diane Dixon, R-Newport Beach.

The bill proposes to amend the definition of a signature to encompass electronic records and electronic signatures for WCAB hearings.  Additionally, it would permit signature requirements in the Labor Code to be fulfilled using an electronic signature.

The California Lawyers Association said that “[e]electronic signatures were used effectively in workers’ compensation proceedings for three years during the state of emergency … California explicitly authorizes electronic signatures in civil proceedings, where they are widely and effectively used.  AB 2337 follows a long line of legislation in California permitting electronic signatures in various areas.”

According to WorkCompCentral, the bill has no recorded opposition and is supported by both employees and employers.

AB 2337 has been submitted to the Senate for additional hearings.

Assembly Passes E-Signature Bill| Workers Compensation News | WorkCompCentral

WCAB ISSUES EN BANC ORDER FOR SANCTIONS

On May 16, 2024, the Appeals Board issued en banc order imposing sanctions and costs in Alfredo Ledezma, et al. v. Kareem Cart Commissary and Mfg.; State Compensation Insurance Fund, et al. (ADJ8965291; ADJ10451326; ADJ10750348; ADJ15382349; ADJ15382351; ADJ16951068; ADJ16951573; ADJ16953628; ADJ16953629; ADJ16124753; ADJ16124750; ADJ17290772; ADJ16953860).

Prior to issuing the order, the WCAB issued a notice of intent to impose up to $20,000 in sanctions in eight (8) instances against attorney Susan Garrett, where she filed petitions for reconsideration with willful intent to disrupt or delay proceedings of the Appeals Board or with improper motive, or where it appeared such actions where indisputably without merit.  The Appeals Board also issued a notice of intent to impose up to $20,000 in sanctions in eight (8) instances against hearing representative Lance Garrett, where it appeared he filed petitions for reconsideration with willful intent to disrupt or delay proceedings of the Appeals Board or with improper motive, or where it appeared such actions were indisputably without merit.  Further, the Appeals Board issued a notice of intent to award reasonable expenses, including attorney’s fees and costs, associated with the respective petitions for reconsideration filed in each respective case and deferred the amounts of such costs to the trial level.

In its order, the Appeals Board explained that in eight cases, Ms. Garrett and Mr. Garrett requested last-minute continuances of scheduled trials based on alleged calendar conflicts. After their requests were denied, petitions for reconsideration were filed and they did not appear at trial.  As a result of the filings, the trial level proceedings came to a halt.

The Appeals Board explained that the responses filed by Ms. Garrett and Mr. Garrett did not warrant a reduction in sanctions due to their deliberate conduct and failure to take responsibility of their actions, recognize the scope of their offense, or express genuine remorse.  As a result of these issues, sanctions were imposed and the matter was returned to the trial level to address the issue of reasonable expenses, including attorneys’ fees and costs.

AlfredoLedezma.pdf (ca.gov)

 

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