Telephonic trial did not violate defendant’s Due Process Rights or Governor’s Order

This is a Board Panel Decision

This is a very significant case for workers’ compensation principles.

The applicant sustained an injury in a physical altercation. The defendant denied the claim contending the applicant was the “initial physical aggressor” and thus barred from recovery.

The case was tried after the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) stopped conducting in person trials because of Covid-19 restrictions.

The case was to be tried by telephonic link.  The defendant objected claiming that the Workers’ Compensation Judge would not be able to give an adequate assessment of the witnesses’ testimony by a telephone call or video conferencing.  The WCJ denied the defendants request and the trial was held telephonically with video conferencing.

The WCJ issued a decision finding the claim compensable and finding the defendant was not the initial physical aggressor. This was after listening to all witnesses telephonically. The defendant filed a petition for reconsideration.

The WCAB indicated that due process only requires a hearing appropriate to the nature of the case. The need for a remote hearing was not base on whimsy. The need for a remote hearing was based on the advent of a global pandemic. Due process is based on the  circumstances as they find them. Here there was a global pandemic. Therefore,  the defendants’ s  due process rights were not violated.

Johanson v. San Ramon  Valley Unified School District

 Editor: Harvey Brown
Samuelsen, Gonzalez, Valenzuela & Brown
3501 Jamboree Suite 602
Newport Beach, Ca 92660
(949) 689-5586


Harvey Brown
3501 Jamboree Rd. Suite 602
Newport Beach, CA 92660

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