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Countywide Focus

Firms Take Day Off to Protest Fraud

July 31, 1993|CARLOS V. LOZANO

Ventura County employers and their workers joined hundreds of other businesses across Southern California to declare Friday as Vigilance Day, calling for tougher laws and public support to combat workers' compensation fraud.

Nearly 500 employers in Ventura, Los Angeles and Orange counties voluntarily closed their businesses, and employees took the day off without pay to protest the financial impact fraud cases are having on the business community. About 20 Ventura County employers, mostly in Thousand Oaks, participated.

"If we don't do something about this, employers will never stop leaving California, and we will never recover from the recession," said Will Scott, president of Industrial Insurance Cost Control. Scott noted that last year California employers paid out about $12 billion to settle workers' comp claims.

The Westlake Village-based workers compensation management firm sponsored Friday's business-closure demonstration, which was intended to illustrate what will happen if fraud cases continue to increase.

A handful of attorneys, doctors, business owners and representatives from the Ventura and Los Angeles county district attorney's offices attended a press conference in Thousand Oaks to lend their support to Vigilance Day.

Together, they called for the Legislature to increase funding to the state Workers Compensation Appeals Court, for insurance companies to more vigorously investigate questionable claims and to further limit the ability of employees to file "retaliatory" claims against former employers.

All agreed that the Legislature's newly approved workers' compensation reform package did not go far enough.

"The real problem is that there is a lack of funding for the Workers Compensation Appeals Court," said Craig Glass, an Agoura attorney who handles workers' compensation claims. "We've brought the system down by failing to fund it. It doesn't matter what laws are passed if there's no one to enforce them."

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