I bring you the panel decision in the case of Juan Quinonez v. Bodega Latina Corporation. Therein, the parties had reached a compromise and release agreement, but apparently the C&R did not cover the issue of the Supplemental Job Displacement Benefit voucher, which the applicant sought after resolving the case via C&R.
The judge ultimately ruled that because the defendant failed to make an offer of regular, modified or alternative work within 60 days of receipt of the Physician's Return-to-Work & Voucher Report, a voucher was due.
The defendant responded by arguing that the report issued after the C&R was approved and the applicant voluntarily resigned his employment. The judge ruled that a voucher was due and, in the face of the defendant’s reconsideration petition, the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board affirmed that “applicant’s resignation notice relinquishing his rights to employment defendant does not absolve defendant from its obligation to provide applicant with [an] SJDB voucher.”
So, the defendant owes the voucher?
The WCAB panel here is telling us that the record can continue to be developed even after settlement of the case, isn’t it? After your C&R check has cleared, the applicant can continue to develop the record to support supplemental benefits, such as a voucher.
So what’s a good idea for handling these cases going forward? How do you make sure that your closed file doesn’t get reopened to have to provide a voucher?
Well, for one thing, your defense attorney should probably start including language in the C&R that addresses this issue. Another important thing to remember to get done as part of the file closure procedure is to contact any physicians with pending reports — agreed medical evaluator, qualified medical evaluator or primary treating physician — and cancel the request for services.
Just one more thing we need to keep an eye on as we wrap up our files.
Gregory Grinberg is managing partner of Gale, Sutow & Associates’ S.F. Bay South office and a certified specialist in workers’ compensation law. This post is reprinted with permission from Grinberg’s WCDefenseCA blog.
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