Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board rules doctrine of laches applies to deposition fees
- Posted By: Harvey Brown
- June 1, 2019
This is a writ denied case
This is a very significant case for workers’ compensation principles.
The applicant sustained an admitted injury. The applicant’s deposition was taken on 2/8/2001 and 12/12/2001. The case settled by way of Compromise and Release (C&R) in 2004. The language of the C&R indicated the defendants were to pay reasonable deposition fees within 20 days, and the balance subject to continuing jurisdiction.
The applicant first made a demand for deposition fees in 2005, four years after the depositions. Defendant first paid a deposition fee in 2010 and a second deposition fee in 2018.
The applicant attorney claimed deposition attorney fees in addition to what was paid and it went to hearing. The applicant attorney also claimed penalties and sanctions.
The Workers’ Compensation Judge (WCJ) indicated deposition fees are discretionary, not mandatory. The WCJ noted that the request for deposition fees came four years after the first deposition, three and half years after the second deposition, and more than one year from the date of the C&R. Applicant’s attorney argued that the language of the C&R indicated the defendant must pay. The WCJ ruled that language was vague and ambiguous. The WCJ ruled that the inadequate and delayed request for attorney fees was prejudicial to defendant and barred by the doctrine of laches. On Petition for Reconsideration the WCAB agreed. No penalty was allowed.
Case: Shandler and Associates v WCAB