Calif. Supreme Court Declines to Take Up Controversial Workers’ Comp Case

November 12, 2010

The California Supreme Court has declined to review the decision in Milpitas Unified School District v. WCAB (Guzman), a case that is being heavily watched by the workers’ compensation insurance industry.

In September, Bradford & Barthel, LLP’s Louis Larres filed a petition in Guzman with the California Supreme Court, hoping to convince the high court that the whole person impairment (WPI) produced by a strict application of the AMA Guides is not subject to the “prima facie” language in Labor Code 4660(c).

“While we are pleased with the rather conservative opinion issued by the 6th District Court of Appeals in Guzman, we believe a correct decision from the California Supreme Court could put an end to the skyrocketing litigation costs and procedural delays brought by both Almaraz/Guzman and Ogilvie,” said Don Barthel on behalf of his firm.

Together the cases have dramatically undercut the “uniformity, consistency and objectivity” in permanent disability that SB 899 sought to produce, and are being blamed in part for the 27.7 percent rate increase recently recommended by the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau of California. “This battle has the potential of taking more than two years to fight, but — if successful — it should return consistency to a PD [permanent disability] system that has been far too chaotic in recent years,” Barthel said.

A decision is still pending on n the Fifth District Court of Appeal on the Almaraz/Guzman decision.

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