Workers' Compensation

California: Medical Lien Discovery Practice and In Camera Review

WCAB provides guidance on the discovery of corporate and financial documents and the right of privacy with respect to a medical lien

In Garcia v. Arun Enterprises dba Subway, 2014 Cal. Wrk. Comp. P.D. LEXIS --, a WCAB panel, granting the defendant’s petition for removal, reversed the WCJ’s order and held that the WCAB had jurisdiction over (1) the issue of whether the lien claimant Tri-County Medical Group, Inc. violated a ban on the corporate practice of medicine and whether such violation was a defense against the liability for Tri-County’s lien, and (2) the discovery of the financial/business relationships between the Tri-County shareholders Maria Ruby Leynes, M.D. and Edward Komberg, D.C., as well as the Tri-County’s business relationships with other entities.

The WCAB reasoned that it has exclusive jurisdiction over medical liens pursuant to Labor Code §§ 5300(b) and 5304. Furthermore, the WCAB’s jurisdiction extends to any controversy arising under Labor Code §§ 4600-4605, absent an express agreement fixing the amounts to be paid for medical treatment.

According to the WCAB, the defendant established grounds for removal from the non-final discovery order wherein the WCJ failed to exercise jurisdiction over the issue in controversy properly before the WCJ.

The WCAB determined that, although some of the discovery that defendant sought was relevant to presenting its defense, other portions of the discovery requests appeared overbroad, thereby requiring the appointment of a special master to attend the depositions of Drs. Leynes and Komberg, conduct an in camera review of the disputed information and/or documents, and provide recommendations to the parties and the WCJ regarding the admissibility of disputed discovery items.

Read the Garcia noteworthy panel decision.

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