When Can You Rescind a Stipulation For Award?

In some instances you may enter into a stipulation and later determine that you do not want to be bound with that stipulation. A recent case has discussed the parameters of being relieved of the previous stipulation.  After the application was filed, the carrier entered into a Stipulation with Request for Award. The stipulation admitted AOE-COE but reserved jurisdiction on T.D. and P.D.. The parties also agreed on an AME. There was then a question as to whether the AME then found the injuries non-industrial. Assuming for-the sake of this article that tire AME would have found the injury non industrial, can the stipulation be set aside?

The Board on Reconsideration stated that the executed stipulation could be rescinded because the underlying facts had changed under section 5803, which states that good cause under 5803 to reopen a case is “newly discovered evidence previously unavailable. A change in the law, or ‘any factor or circumstance unknown at the time the original award or order was made which renders the previous finding and award inequitable’”..

Applying that law, the appellate court quotes Huston v. WCAB that the stipulation would have had to be “entered into through inadvertence, excusable neglect, fraud mistake of fact or law, where tire facts stipulated to have changed or there has been a change in the underlying conditions that could not have been anticipated, or where special circumstances exist rendering it unjust to enforce the stipulation…. (w)hen there is no mistake but merely a lack of full knowledge of the facts, which… is due to the failure of a party to exercise due diligence to ascertain them, there is no proper ground for relief”.

This Court stated that newly conflicting medical evidence may not be considered a change in the facts sufficient to rescind the stipulations. Medical opinions are not considered facts. To use a new medical opinion to undo a stipulation would undermine the whole essence of stipulations. “A parry cannot be permitted to withdraw from a stipulation simply because another expert has a different opinion.” This really makes sense. Otherwise, parties could continually relitigate an issue that had apparently been resolved simply by getting another medical opinion.

The Court even went so far as to state that rescinding the stipulation on the basis of a medical opinion without giving the party adversely effected an opportunity to adduce evidence in support of the stipulation, may be a denial of due process.

Therefore it is advisable that you do not enter into a stipulation to injury if you are then going to go to an AME and there is any doubt as to the injury being industrial.

Case: Brian N En V. W.C.A.B.

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

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