Flash Report: Interpreters’ Lien Challenge Rejected

By: Brad Cain

The First District Court of Appeal summarily denied a petition from the California Workers’ Compensation Interpreters’ Association that challenged new Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board rules for liens. The court did not elaborate on its decision.

California workers’ comp lien reforms are consistently being upheld by the state’s court system.

The CWCIA filed its lawsuit earlier this year after the WCAB implemented new regulations requiring lien filers to submit a declaration under penalty of perjury along with a lien. The Legislature mandated the regulations. The interpreters argued that the regulations and underlying statute violated their due process and other constitutional rights.

The regulations took effect March 26. The lawsuit was filed even before they went into effect.

The lawsuit challenged provisions enacted with the SB 1160 reforms that passed last year to crack down on fraudulent medical billings. The interpreters were represented by the law firm that unsuccessfully challenged the lien fee provisions in the SB 863 reforms and also filed an unsuccessful challenge against the new suspension rules for providers connected with fraudulent activity.

The WCAB rules aim to keep fraudulent liens out of the system by requiring that providers file a declaration that they are the authorized lien holder and that the lien is not subject to independent bill review. In addition, at least one of the following criteria must apply for the lien to be valid:

  • They are the employee’s treating physician and are providing care under the employer’s medical provider network;
  • They are the agreed/qualified medical evaluator assigned to the case;
  • The treatment was previously authorized by the employer or claims adjuster;
  • They have determined after a diligent search that the employer does not have an MPN;
  • They have documented that medical treatment was neglected or unreasonably denied; or
  • That the lien filer is a certified interpreter providing service during a medical-legal examination, a copy service providing medical-legal services, or has an expense allowed as a lien under the rules adopted by the DWC administrative director.

Liens filed after Jan. 1, 2017 without a declaration are dismissed with prejudice as a matter of law. Active liens filed between January 1, 2013, and December 31, 2016, will be dismissed after July 1, 2017 if providers do not file a supplemental lien form that includes a declaration by that date. Liens filed in 2012 and earlier were not subject to the SB 863 lien filing fee and are not affected by these new rules.