DOI And Multiple CT Cases

William Matthews vs. San Diego Chargers et al., May 9, 2016, (WCAB Panel Decision, May 9, 2016).

This matter arose out of arbitration proceedings under Labor Code §5500.5. The underlying case was settled by some of the defendants at trial by way of Compromise and Release agreement. The settlement settled the entire period of the alleged cumulative trauma injury from 1974 through 1985 against multiple teams. The settling defendants subsequently filed a Petition for Contribution under Labor Code §5500.5(e) and proceeded into arbitration to seek contribution in the case and a determination as to the DOI under LC 5500.5, and whether there were one or two cumulative traumas.

Ultimately, for technical reasons, the WCAB did not allow contribution, but they did provide an opinion on when it is appropriate for there to be finding of two cumulative trauma injuries. The WCAB cited the long-standing Coltharp (38 Cal. Comp. Cases 17) decision indicating Labor Code §3208.1 and §3208.2 do not allow separate similar injuries to be treated as a single cumulative injury when there are separate periods of disability, and separate periods of need for medical treatment.

The court also distinguished the case from the seminal case of Western Growers (58 Cal. Comp. Cases323) indicating that in the present case, there were two distinct periods of injurious exposure separated by a one-year break without the continuous need for medical treatment. The WCAB found that the anti-merger doctrine required a finding of two CT injuries in light of the evidence of two separate periods of cumulative trauma as determined by the defense QME Dr. Danzig.