From: Jake Jacobsmeyer [email@example.com]
Court Enforces Labor Code § 5500.5© Venue Rules, Reverses W.C.A.B.
The Court of Appeals has certified for publication a previously issued decision on venue selection before the W.C.A.B. In Dominos' Pizza v W.C.A.B. (Kerr), the court has reversed a W.C.A.B. ruling that allowed an applicant to file an Application for Adjudication of Claim at a venue different from those allowed under Labor Code § 5500.5©.
Applicant, who resided in
Defendant S.C.I.F. objected to the filing of the case in Grover Beach citing Labor Code § 5500.5© which mandates the application be filed in Santa Barbara County (Goleta) as all of the statutory criterion for venue were in that county. Labor Code § 5500.5© requires the application be filed in the county where the injury occurred, the injured employee resides, or where the applicant attorney has an office. The Presiding WCJ in
On Reconsideration the W.C.A.B. adopted the WCJ's Report and Recommendation holding that the WCJ had discretion under Labor Code § 5501.6 to allow the selection of Grover Beach on the grounds that it was more convenient to the parties.
The Appellate Court took a different view however. Pointing out that the mandatory language of Labor Code § 5500.5© requires the initial filing to be in one of the three venues identified in statute, that court held that it was not up to defendant to demonstrate substantial prejudice or irreparable harm to change venue. Notice that the W.C.A.B. had violated its own rule (ADR 10408) in allowing a venue not dictated by Labor Code § 5500.5© the court ordered the W.C.A.B. to grant defendant's petition and order the change of venue
The impact of this decision is to require the W.C.A.B. follow its own rules on the selection of venues at the W.C.A.B and follow the statutory scheme. The WCJ & the W.C.A.B. treated the two relevant codes sections as combining to allow selection of venue. The Appeals Court however applied the statutory language which requires use of Labor Code § 5500.5 in filing the initial application and Defendant was entitled to have venue selected based on that section and then it was up to applicant to demonstrate a change of venue was appropriate in the case Labor Code § 55001.6 by making a showing as required under that statute. Labor Code § 5501.6 allows the court to consider the convenience of the parties and witnesses but requires a showing that the statutorily mandated venue is not as convenient for a significant number of the parties or witnesses, not a single participant.
In this case the only party who was significantly inconvenienced by the proper venue in
The case can be found at: Dominos' Pizza v W.C.A.B. (Kerr)
Richard M. Jacobsmeyer*
Richard M. Jacobsmeyer
Certified Specialist, Workers' Compensation Law
The State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization
SHAW, JACOBSMEYER, CRAIN & CLAFFEY
475 – 14th Street, Suite 850
Tel: (510) 645-7172
Fax: (866) 563-0092