Flash Report: Appeals Court Strikes Down Controversial WCAB Practice

In a ruling that affects how all appealed workers’ comp cases are handled in California, the Second District Court of Appeal says the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board’s long-standing “grant-for-study” practice is illegal. The DCA ruled the procedure is an unauthorized way to extend the 60-day statutory deadline for acting on a petition for reconsideration.

The court, however, agreed that the WCAB is not required to issue a final ruling on the merits of the petition within 60 days. “Statutory language negates the Petitioners’ argument to the contrary,” the court wrote.

The published opinion hews to a tentative ruling the court circulated earlier this year (for past coverage, see Tentative Ruling…).

 A Huge Number of Cases

The grant-for-study process was used in 19% of the cases filed with the Board before the pandemic and 38.5% of the petitions filed during the pandemic. The Board would issue a boilerplate order granting the petition for further study within the required 60 days but then would not issue a final ruling on the merits for days, weeks, months, or even years.

Additional coverage of the decision in Earley v. Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board/Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania, et al., will be the next premium edition of Workers’ Comp Executive.