WCAB should address a special death benefit under the PERS system in the WCAB proceedings

This is a published court case

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

The applicant was a guard at a prison when he was stabbed 8 times in the neck, shoulder and arm. He received a 44 percent permanent disability to his neck and psyche. He was demoted and had a poor relationship with his supervisor. He committed suicide.

The widow filed for workers’ compensation death benefits. She also filed for a finding of fact under section 21537 that would qualify her for a PERS special death benefit for police officers.

Labor Code section 4708 requires that when a member of PERS applies for death benefits the PERS Board be joined as a party defendant. The Workers’ Compensation Judge (WCJ) did not join the PERS Board. The WCJ found the death industrial and awarded $250,000 to the widow and legal fees of $30,000. There was no finding of fact pursuant to section 21537.

A petition for reconsideration was filed. The Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) indicated the PERS special death benefit was not before it and indicated CalPERS would have determine the issue on its own.

The appellate court annulled the decision and remanded to the WCAB. They indicated the PERS Board had to be joined and the WCAB calculate a coordinated death benefit.

Case: Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation v. WCAB (Thompson)

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

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