The 6th District Court of Appeal granted defendant's appeal in the Miltipitas Unified School District v W.C.A.B. (Guzman) case today. As I am sure everyone is aware, there are three pending petitions for writ of review in the Almaraz/Guzman and Ogilvie cases. This is the first court to rule on whether the issues will be heard.
The Court also declined to grant a stay on use of the W.C.A.B. decision and therefore the W.C.A.B. en banc decision is still binding on all Trial courts and W.C.A.B. Panels. However it is likely the granting of the Petition for appellate review will cause WCJ's some pause in relying on the decision to be too creative. It is also likely to result in the W.C.A.B. being somewhat cautious about its decisions on appeal while it waits for the Appellate process to work itself out. The Court set a briefing schedule which will carry the case at least until Mid April before the court will be ready to calendar for oral argument, assuming oral argument is not waived. I would be very surprised if such a waiver occurred in this case given the vigourous arguments presented by opposing parties. There are also multiple amicus briefs in these matters. Therefore someone is likely to want to discuss this case before the appellate court. As a practical matter the earliest we are likely to see any results from this appellate court is sometime in the early summer of 2010. By the time this case is decided, we should also know if the other two cases are lined for for appellate action.
The other two cases are pending in different districts. The Almaraz case [titled S.C.I.F. v W.C.A.B. (Almaraz)] is pending in the 5th Appellate district and that court has yet to decide whether to grant the petition and consider the issues. Ogilvie, the only case to be appealed by both sides, is pending in the 1st Appellate district. That district typically takes a longer time to decide whether to grant a Petition for Writ of Review than does the other districts.
The granting of the Petition for Writ of Review should not necessarily be interpretated as any indication of how the court is likely to rule. In general the Appellate Courts grant considerable difference to the W.C.A.B.'s interpretation of worker's compensation law.
Click on the link on the case name to see the Court of Appeal Docket page with the court's orders.
Stay tuned. Lots more to come.