YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

A Workers' Comp Judge's Courage

April 25, 1993

It was heartening to read in The Times about the courageous decision of workers' compensation Judge Frank S. Falero to resist what appeared to him to be a "scheme to deceive" an employer and its insurance carrier in connection with apparently fraudulent compensation claims ("Workers' Comp Judge Balks, Cries Fraud," April 10).

Of course, since I am not familiar with the evidence that came before Judge Falero in the trial process, I cannot comment on the merits of his decisions.

However, there was no such reluctance on the part of the administrative director of the state Division of Workers' Compensation or its "legal adviser" to comment adversely on the trial judge's decisions, without even reviewing the record or having the case record properly before them.

Moreover, it was unconscionable for these supposedly responsible state officials to denigrate the functions of those judges in the workers' compensation system who, under the law of California, have the sole original judicial power to decide such cases.

The California Supreme Court has for many decades held that the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board and its judges perform judicial functions and have full authority to decide all issues arising under the state workers' compensation law. That includes such issues of fraud and misrepresentation as may be presented to them.

Contrary to the so-called legal adviser's comments, there is no legal authority for the civil, state or federal courts to interfere in the decisions of the California compensation judicial system, except possibly in certain appellate capacities.

Finally, I believe that my 44 years of participation in the California workers' compensation system entitles me to comment that it is just this example, of many that could be cited, of the incompetence of state administrators and their aides and their complete lack of leadership abilities that have been at least partially responsible for the obscene abuses and chaotic breakdowns of the California workers' compensation system.


Los Angeles

The writer, now retired, is former presiding workers' compensation judge in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles Times Articles