Workers’ Compensation

Limitations: Equitable Tolling

By on April 20, 2015 - Comments off

Hopkins v. Kedzierski, (Fourth District, April 16, 2014) 225 Cal.App.4th 736, 170 Cal.Rptr.3d 551, 14 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 4108, 2014 Daily Journal D.A.R. 4770

A woman who suffered injuries when she fell from an outdoor balcony at her place of employment filed a claim with the Worker’s Compensation Appeals Board eleven months later. Over two years after her fall she filed a premises liability action against the owners of the building, who also owned the dental business which employed her. In a bifurcated bench trial on the defense of statute of limitations, the plaintiff contended that the statute was equitably tolled by her filing of the workers’ compensation claims.

The trial court ruled in favor of the defendants, finding that equitable tolling did not apply because the workers’ compensation claim had not been rejected, and there had been no determination that the plaintiff was ineligible for benefits. The court also held that the fact the defendants in the action were different from those in the workers’ compensation proceeding precluded application of the doctrine. However, the court of appeal concluded that neither ground was legally sufficient to prevent the application of equitable tolling: Read the rest »


Employment Injuries: Power Press Exception

By on December 23, 2014 - Comments off

Gonzalez v. Seal Methods, Inc., (Second District, January 24, 2014) 223 Cal.App.4th 405,166 Cal.Rptr.3d 895, 14 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 893, 2014 Daily Journal D.A.R. 985

A woman who was severely injured while loading material onto a die in a power press filed suit against her employer under Labor Code § 4558, which provides an exception to the workers’ compensation exclusive remedy rule. The section allows an employee to “bring an action at law for damages against the employer where the employee’s injury or death is proximately caused by the employer’s knowing removal of, or knowing failure to install, a point of operation guard on a power press, and this removal or failure to install is specifically authorized by the employer under conditions known by the employer to create a probability of serious injury or death.”

The employer moved for summary judgment, contending that the point of operation guard specified by the manufacturer of the press—a two-hand activator system—was properly installed and activated, and the manufacturer had not specified or required any other point of operation guard. The plaintiff opposed the motion, contending that the operation manual for the press required the use of safety blocks, which are small wooden or metal blocks placed in the point of operation to physically prevent the machine from striking whenever the operator’s hands are in the point of operation. Read the rest »


Workers’ Compensation: Professional Athletes

By on December 15, 2014 - Comments off

Federal Insurance Company v. Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board, (Second District, December 3, 2013) 221 Cal.App.4th 1116, 165 Cal.Rptr.3d 288, 78 Cal. Comp. Cases 1257, 13 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 13,054, 2013 Daily Journal D.A.R. 15,727

A retired professional basketball player for the Connecticut Sun filed a workers’ compensation claim against her employer and filed an application for adjudication of the claim with the California Division of Workers’ Compensation/Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board. Although the claimant had played only one professional game in California out of 34 games played during 2003 and had suffered no specific injury in the state, she asserted that the single game had contributed to her cumulative injuries resulting in conditions in her shoulder, spine, hip, and ankle.

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