Removal of WC Trial Pending Outcome of Worker’s Compensation Fraud Criminal Charges

Yepes v. St. Supery Vineyard Winery (BPD) (2014 Cal. Wrk. Comp. P.D. LEXIS 73):

 

The matter came to hearing before the WCJ and over defendant’s objection the matter was set for trial.  The defendant’s objection was based on the fact that applicant was being prosecuted for workers compensation fraud and defendant argued the outcome of the criminal case would affect the workers compensation case and therefore the matter should not be set for trial until the criminal case was completed.

 

The WCAB granted removal of the WCJ’s order setting the matter for trial.  The WCAB ruled that because the applicant was being prosecuted for workers’ compensation fraud pursuant to LC 1871.4., the outcome of the criminal case could affect the defendant’s claim for credit for benefits paid as well as the applicant’s own claim for benefits. The case should not have been set for trial pending the outcome of the criminal case. The WCAB further stated the criminal charges were inextricably intertwined in the determination of the applicant’s entitlement to benefits, if any, and therefore the matter should not have been set for trial.

 

The WCAB did not believe that some issues could be determined while other issues, (i.e. the outcome of the criminal proceedings) were being deferred. The WCAB decided that judicial economy required that the workers compensation proceedings be suspended pending the outcome of the criminal case.

 

The WCAB further indicated that the suspension of proceedings would allow for the reopening of discovery following the disposition of the criminal case, absent a showing of good cause.

 

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