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Calif. workers comp board revises earlier rulings


SAN FRANCISCO—The California Workers Compensation Appeals Board has reversed its positions concerning when employers, third-party administrators and insurers must apply a newer permanent disability rating schedule.

The issue has been controversial in California, with employers and insurers favoring broader application of a 2005 ratings schedule. Claimants and their attorneys, meanwhile, have fought for broader application of a 1997 rating schedule that provides more liberal permanent disability benefits.

Last Friday's decisions, which favor employers and their insurers, follow the departure of Commissioner Merle Rabine from the WCAB and the appointment of former insurance company defense attorney Alfonso Moresi by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger earlier this year.

Employers in two cases before the WCAB asked for reconsideration of the board's earlier rulings and the WCAB agreed, despite protests from claimants' attorneys.

In Baglione vs. Hertz Car Sales, the WCAB found Friday that—for the 1997 schedule to apply—the existence of permanent disability must be included in a comprehensive medical-legal report or a treating doctor's report dated before 2005.

In Pendegrass vs. Duggan Plumbing, the WCAB ruled that if an applicant's last temporary disability indemnity payment was made before Jan. 1, 2005, then the 1997 schedule applies.