Court: California Courts of Appeal
Docket: C093293(Third Appellate District)
Opinion Date: January 28, 2022
Judge: Cole Blease
Areas of Law: Civil Procedure, Labor & Employment Law, Personal Injury
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Petitioner California Correctional Peace Officers Association Benefit Trust Fund (CCPOA) paid money pursuant to its disability policy to the real party in interest David Martin Jr., a CCPOA member after he filed a workers’ compensation claim for injuries sustained while working as a correctional officer. CCPOA subsequently filed a lien against the prospective workers’ compensation award for the sum is paid. It was represented in the workers’ compensation proceedings by petitioner Dan Escamilla, a non-attorney appearing pursuant to Labor Code section 5700. After Martin’s attorney petitioned for costs and sanctions against CCPOA and Escamilla for alleged misbehavior during proceedings on Martin’s claim, CCPOA withdrew the lien. Escamilla then failed to appear at four subsequent hearings on the petition for costs and sanctions. While respondent Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) ultimately affirmed the denial of costs and sanctions, it affirmed an award of $3,280 in attorney fees against CCPOA and Escamilla for the failure to appear at the four hearings. Petitioners filed a petition for writ of review, claiming: (1) the failure to notify them that a hearing held subsequent to the COVID-19 pandemic was to be held telephonically was a deprivation of due process; (2) failure to appear following the withdrawal of the lien was not sanctionable bad faith, and (3) attorney fees were not permitted for an attorney expending time litigating on his or her own behalf. The Court of Appeal found there was an adequate notice of the one hearing in question, withdrawal of the lien did not deprive WCAB of jurisdiction to determine the petition for costs and sanctions, and the contention regarding attorney fees for work on behalf of the attorney was not properly before the Court, as it was determined by WCAB in a previous proceeding. Accordingly, judgment was affirmed.