Sacramento, CA - Eduardo Anguizola M.D claims in his federal lawsuit that Labor Code 4615 - the automatic lien stay law - violates his constitutional rights. Before submission of his request for an injunction, Governor Brown signed AB 1422 into law which was adverse to his federal claim. The parties were given additional time to brief the implications of the new law. The California Attorney General has now filed what is the final scheduled written response.
The AG said "Plaintiffs most recent brief makes clear that they are asking this Court to void Section 4615 in its entirety, an outcome that would enable criminally-charged lien claimants to continue collecting on their liens unabated while criminal charges against them are pending."
The brief further points out that AB 1422, recently passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor "confirms that lien claimants may raise any disputes concerning the applicability of the automatic stay to specific liens using existing workers' compensation procedures. It also confirms that the Legislature never intended to strip the Workers' Compensation Appeal Board ("WCAB") or workers' compensation administrative law judges ("WCALJs") of jurisdiction to determine whether a lien falls into the category of liens subject to the stay. AB 1422 thus verifies Defendants' interpretation of the statute and the showing that has been made on this motion in support of that interpretation. The amendment to the statute should resolve any lingering concern as to whether lien claimants have access to process and procedures in order to dispute whether the provisions of Section 4615 apply to their liens."
"The effect of this new language on Plaintiffs' preliminary injunction motion is substantial. It specifically addresses the procedural due process issues about which the Court has expressed concerns by confirming that nothing in Section 4615 precludes the appeals board from determining whether the automatic stay applies to a specific lien (i.e., whether that lien falls within the category of liens subject to the automatic stay)."
"This Court has previously determined that 'the statutory language [of Section 4615] is ambiguous.' Aug. 31, 2017 Tentative Ruling at 5. Where 'a statute is ambiguous . . . a subsequent expression of the Legislature as to the intent of the prior statute, although not binding on the court, may properly be used in determining the effect of a prior act.' "
"AB 1422 illuminates the original intent of Section 4615. It clarifies that in enacting Section 4615, the Legislature intended for workers' compensation judges and the WCAB to maintain jurisdiction to determine within the pre-existing workers' compensation procedures whether the Section 4615 stay applies to a particular lien. Because AB 1422 was passed within a year of Section 4615, it carries great weight in the analysis of the Legislature's intent in enacting Section 4615. Even though AB 1422 will not go into effect until January 1, 2018, it offers clarification to the WCAB and WCALJs charged with administering Section 4615, and there is no reason to think that they will ignore or act contrary to the amendment. In fact, the amendment confirms instructions received from Chief Judge Levy (see Dkt. 42-1 at ¶ 9) and eliminates any doubt as to whether WCALJs have jurisdiction to consider the applicability of the stay."
Judge Wu will hold another hearing in federal court on October 19, and will likely rule on the request for a preliminary injunction shortly thereafter. Read More...