The Lien Cases
On October 26, 2017, the WCAB issued an En Banc decision in Jose Guillermina Rodriguez vs. Garden Plating Co., Intercare Holdings Insurance Services (Rodriguez) addressing at least 1,234 Petitions for Reconsideration filed by Maximum Medical on behalf of numerous lien claimants. This decision relates to the dismissal of a limited number of liens by the DWC for failure to timely file a supplemental lien declaration as required by Labor Code section 4903.05(c).
As a brief refresher, for liens filed before January 1, 2017 that are subject to a filing fee, Labor Code section 4903.5(c) required the filing of a declaration that the dispute was not subject to independent bill review and independent medical review (along with meeting one of seven criteria as set forth in the statute). The deadline for filing such a declaration was July 1, 2017, which just happened to fall on a Saturday. The question is: since the deadline fell on a Saturday, what is the actual deadline for filing the declaration?
In August, over 292,000 liens were dismissed by operation of law including those filed on Sunday, July 2 and Monday, July 3, 2017. The multitude of Petitions for Reconsideration challenging these dismissals were filed starting in September. On October 3, 2017, the DWC reversed the dismissal of those lien declarations filed on July 2 and July 3, 2017.
Now, the Rodriguez decision has been handed down. The scope of the decision in Rodriguez is limited to those declarations filed on Friday, June 30, 2017 after 5:00 p.m through 5:00 p.m on Monday, July 3, 2017. For purposes of this decision, the WCAB identified all liens falling within this window of time as “The Lien Cases”. In short, Rodriguez dismissed the Petitions for Reconsideration as moot based upon the fact the DWC’s dismissal of the liens was reversed and that there was never any decision by a Workers’ Compensation Judge from which relief could be sought. Rodriguez did not decide whether such declarations are timely and the issue is now to be addressed on a case by case basis.