GOLD PAK MEAT COMPANY v. WORKERS COMPENSATION APPEALS BOARD

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Court of Appeal, Second District, Division 3, California.

GOLD PAK MEAT COMPANY and Beaver Insurance Company, Petitioners, v. WORKERS' COMPENSATION APPEALS BOARD and Arnulfo Ceballos, Respondents.

B025343.

Decided: August 24, 1987

Pierson & Pierson and Stephen E. Lasicka, Los Angeles, for petitioners. Richard W. Younkin, William B. Donohoe, and Charles E. Finster, San Francisco, for respondent W.C.A.B. Sacks & Lester and Jerome N. Sacks, Los Angeles, for respondent Arnulfo Ceballos.

 In this proceeding to review a decision of respondent Workers' Compensation Appeals Board (Board), we address the question whether the Court of Appeal (Court) is empowered to summarily remand the matter to the Board after giving the parties notice and an opportunity to oppose remand.   We conclude the Court may do so.

Procedural Background

Arnulfo Ceballos claims workers' compensation benefits for injury allegedly sustained in the course of his employment as a butcher by Gold Pak Meat Company, insured by Beaver Insurance Company.

The workers' compensation judge found industrial psychiatric injury and awarded payment of medical expenses incurred by Mr. Ceballos.   On reconsideration the Board found no industrial psychiatric injury, yet awarded payment of the medical expenses.

The employer and insurer then petitioned this court for a writ of review, contending the Board erred in awarding payment of medical expenses in view of the Board's finding that the employee did not sustain industrial psychiatric injury.   In response, the Board addressed a letter to the court requesting summary remand because the Board had inadvertently failed to address the issue of self-procured medical treatment for the psychiatric claim in the Board's December 4, 1986 opinion and order granting reconsideration and decision after reconsideration.

The Court requested briefing by the Board on the issue of the Court's power to summarily remand the matter and afforded petitioners an opportunity to reply to the Board's brief.   Both the Board and petitioners submitted briefs supporting the Court's power to summarily remand and requesting that the Court do so.

The Court, in accordance with the notice requirements prescribed by our Supreme Court for issuance of peremptory writs (Palma v. U.S. Industrial Fasteners, Inc. (1984) 36 Cal.3d 171, 180, 203 Cal.Rptr. 626, 681 P.2d 893), directed notice to all parties of the court's intention to remand the matter to the Board, and allowed Mr. Ceballos 20 days in which to file opposition to remand, suggesting he address the court's power to summarily remand.   By letter, Mr. Ceballos advised the Court he preferred remand.

Discussion

1. Labor Code sections 5950 thru 5956 construed to secure just and speedy determinations.1

In addressing the Court's power to summarily remand after affording the parties notice and opportunity to oppose remand, we first note that California Constitution, article XIV, section 4, vests power in the Legislature to create and enforce a complete system of workers' compensation “to the end that the administration of such legislation shall accomplish substantial justice in all cases expeditiously, inexpensively, and without incumbrance of any character;  all of which matters are expressly declared to be the social public policy of this State․”

Pursuant to this constitutional mandate, the Legislature has provided for a system of workers compensation (§ 3200 et seq.), including provision for judicial review of workers' compensation matters by the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal (§§ 5950–5956).

Sections 5950 through 5953 in essence set forth the procedure for determination of an application for writ of review.   Section 5954 provides the provisions of Code of Civil Procedure relating to writs of review shall, so far as applicable, apply to proceedings under Labor Code sections 5950 through 5956.   Section 5955 provides except as specified in sections 5950 through 5956, neither the Supreme Court nor the Court of Appeal has jurisdiction to review an order of the Board, but a writ of mandate shall lie “in all proper cases.”

Sections 5950 through 5956 must be considered in the light of the constitutional grant (Cal. Const., art. XIV, § 4) of power to the Legislature to create and enforce a system of workers' compensation to the end the administration of such legislation shall accomplish substantial justice in all cases expeditiously, inexpensively, and without incumbrance, as well as the constitutional grant (Cal. Const., art. VI, § 10) of original jurisdiction in proceedings for extraordinary relief in the nature of mandamus and certiorari.

We note further the Court has inherent power to control the course of litigation before it so as to ensure the orderly administration of justice (Code Civ.Proc., §§ 128, 187;  Keeler v. Superior Court (1956) 46 Cal.2d 596, 600, 297 P.2d 967;  Mowrer v. Superior Court (1969) 3 Cal.App.3d 223, 230, 83 Cal.Rptr. 125) and effect an orderly disposition of the issues presented (Santandrea v. Siltec Corp. (1976) 56 Cal.App.3d 525, 529, 128 Cal.Rptr. 629), as well as inherent power to adopt a suitable method of practice in both ordinary actions and special proceedings if the procedure is not specified by statute or rules adopted by the Judicial Council (Citizens Utilities Co. v. Superior Court (1963) 59 Cal.2d 805, 812–813, 31 Cal.Rptr. 316, 382 P.2d 356;  Berger v. Godden (1985) 163 Cal.App.3d 1113, 1119, 210 Cal.Rptr. 109).

 We also note the section 3202 rule of liberal construction must be applied to all aspects of workers' compensation law, including the provisions of divisions 4 and 5 of the Labor Code, which include sections 5950 through 5956.  (LeBoeuf v. Workers' Comp. Appeals Bd. (1983) 34 Cal.3d 234, 241, 193 Cal.Rptr. 547, 666 P.2d 989.)   Thus, sections 5950 through 5956 should be liberally construed to secure the just and speedy determination of workers' compensation proceedings.  (Cf. Melancon v. Walt Disney Productions (1954) 127 Cal.App.2d 213, 215, 273 P.2d 560.)

2. Power implicit where Board ruling patently erroneous.

The Court's power to summarily remand where the Board's decision is patently erroneous is implicit in California Constitution, article XIV, section 4, and in the court's inherent power, and is consonant with California Constitution, article VI, section 10 and Labor Code section 3202.   Such remand will accomplish substantial justice expeditiously and inexpensively without encumbrance of any character, and will ensure the orderly disposition of the issues presented on review.

If in lieu of summary remand, the Court issues a writ of review, at least 120 days is usually consumed while the Board prepares and files a voluminous return at its expense, the parties prepare and file briefs at additional time and expense, and the court undergoes the time-consuming process of considering the record and briefs, hearing oral argument, and preparing and filing an appellate opinion.  (Cf. Palma v. U.S. Industrial Fasteners Inc., supra, 36 Cal.3d at p. 178, 203 Cal.Rptr. 626, 681 P.2d 893.)   Where the Board's decision is patently erroneous, the Court's utilization of this prolonged writ procedure would be “a wasteful spinning of the wheels” serving no public purpose (Albert Van Luit Wallpaper Co. v. Workmen's Comp. Appeals Bd. (1973) 36 Cal.App.3d 88, 92, 111 Cal.Rptr. 247), certainly not serving the declared public policy of article XIV, section 4 of the Constitution.

3. Summary remand by court widely accepted.

Finally, after having notified the parties of the Court's intention (Evid.Code, § 459, subd. (c)), we take judicial notice of the records of the Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, (Evid.Code, § 452, subd. (d)(1)) in several cases in the past four years where the court has ordered summary remand, either upon a Board request therefor or on the court's own motion.2

We also take judicial notice of the records of the Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District, in Smith v. Workers' Comp. Appeals Bd., No. C000887, wherein the Court of Appeal ordered summary remand on April 30, 1987, pursuant to an April 16, 1987 order of the Supreme Court.3  (See 15 Cal.Workers' Comp.Rptr. (1987) p. 130.)

CONCLUSION

 For the foregoing reasons, we conclude the Court is empowered to summarily remand a workers' compensation matter to the Board in an appropriate case, after affording the parties notice of the Court's intention to remand and an opportunity to oppose remand.

In the instant case the Board's decision is patently erroneous for failure to consider a material issue.

DISPOSITION

The December 4, 1986, opinion and order granting reconsideration and decision after reconsideration of respondent Workers' Compensation Appeals Board is annulled;  and the matter is remanded to the Board for determination of the petition for reconsideration.

FOOTNOTES

1.   All section references herein are to the Labor Code unless otherwise noted.

2.   Morton v. Workers' Comp. Appeals Bd. (1987) 193 Cal.App.3d 924, 238 Cal.Rptr. 651;  Buch v. Workers' Comp. Appeals Bd. (Jan. 8, 1987, B022129), 238 Cal.Rptr. 651;  Loomis v. Workers' Comp. Appeals Bd. (Nov. 4, 1986, B021869);  Frey v. Workers' Comp. Appeals Bd. (May 6, 1986, B016486);  Van Hevel v. Workers' Comp. Appeals Bd. (Jan. 28, 1986, B016369);  General Cabinet Co. v. Workers' Comp. Appeals Bd. (Oct. 17, 1985, B014829);  Boyd v. Workers' Comp. Appeals Bd. (May 29, 1985, B012436);  Foster v. Workers' Comp. Appeals Bd. (May 28, 1985, B009797);  Fillman v. Workers' Comp. Appeals Bd. (Apr. 9, 1985, B009959);  Southern California Rapid Transit District v. Workers' Comp. Appeals Bd. (Apr. 2, 1985, B010002);  Larsen v. Workers' Comp. Appeals Bd. (Mar. 22, 1985, B006335);  Moaning v. Workers' Comp. Appeals Bd. (Nov. 20, 1984, B003964);  Hennigan v.Workers' Comp. Appeals Bd. (Nov. 7, 1984, B006795);  State Comp. Ins. Fund v. Workers' Comp. Appeals Bd. (Apr. 24, 1984, B004007);  Oliveria v. Workers' Comp. Appeals Bd. (Apr. 10, 1984, B003970);  Delledonne v. Workers' Comp. Appeals Bd. (Dec. 7, 1983, B001171);  State Comp. Ins. Fund v. Workers' Comp. Appeals Bd. (Aug. 9, 1983, 68351);  State Comp. Ins. Fund v. Workers' Comp. Appeals Bd. (July 27, 1983, 69082);  Weidman v. Workers' Comp. Appeals Bd. (Jan. 13, 1983, 66944).

3.   The Third District Court of Appeal records show that despite a Board request that the matter be summarily remanded, the Court of Appeal summarily denied the petition for writ of review, whereupon the Supreme Court issued the following order on April 16, 1987:“Petition for review GRANTED.   The matter is transferred to the Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District, to afford that court the opportunity to comply with the request of the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board that the matter be remanded and jurisdiction again vested in that Board.”On April 30, 1987, the Court of Appeal summarily ordered remand to the Board “[p]ursuant to the Supreme Court order of April 16, 1987.”

KLEIN, Presiding Justice.

DANIELSON and ARABIAN, JJ., concur.