Workers' Compensation

California: Zombie Liens and Statute of Limitations


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Liens; Medical; Statute of Limitations. WCAB affirmed WCJ’s order disallowing balance of lien claimant’s lien filed on  2/3/2011 for medical treatment provided to applicant/farm laborer with 12/3/2001 industrial injury to his upper extremities on basis that lien was barred by statute of limitations in Labor Code § 4903.5(a), when WCAB found that (1) Labor Code § 4903.5 applied prospectively to lien claimant’s lien filed prior to effective date of statute in 2003, (2) lien claimant did not file lien within a reasonable time after latest date allowed for filing under Labor Code § 4903.5(a), i.e. five years from applicant’s date of injury for which services were provided and nearly four years after effective date of statute, (3) although lien claimant’s billing notified defendant of charges for purposes of effectuating a lien pursuant to Labor Code § 4904(a), defendant’s partial payment of lien required lien claimant to take further action to protect its lien rights or be subject to losing rights due to expiration of time limits in Labor Code § 4903.5(a), (4) doctrine of estoppel did not apply to preclude CIGA from asserting statute of limitations as a defense because there was no evidence that CIGA had any intent to deny that it had notice of lien, lien claimant was not ignorant of facts, and there was no detrimental reliance, so as to satisfy elements necessary for application of estoppel, (5) Labor Code § 4904(a) did not equitably toll limits of Labor Code § 4903.5(a) because lien claimant did not act reasonably and in good faith by waiting for almost nine years after partial payment of bill was made to file lien for balance, and (6) CIGA’s failure to serve Order Approving Compromise and Release pursuant to Labor Code § 4903.1(b) and 8 Cal. Code Reg. § 10886 was not sufficient to toll time limit in Labor Code § 4903.5(a). See Villatoro panel decision.

Reminder: Be sure to check the subsequent history of a case before citing to it.

© Copyright 2012 LexisNexis. All rights reserved. This case summary will appear in a forthcoming issue of the California WCAB Noteworthy Panel Decisions Reporter (LexisNexis).

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