Attorneys Hit with $40,000.00 in Sanctions for Frivolous Delay Tactics

A recent en banc decision from California’s Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board serves as a stern warning to attorneys: abuse of legal procedures to cause delay will not be tolerated and can result in severe monetary sanctions.

In the consolidated matter of Alfredo Ledezma et al. v. Kareem Cart Commissary and Mfg., the Appeals Board imposed sanctions totaling $40,000.00 against attorneys, Susan Garrett and Lance Garrett. The Board found they had filed frivolous petitions for reconsideration in eight separate cases for the sole purpose of disrupting and delaying trial proceedings.

According to the decision, Garrett and her associate repeatedly requested last-minute continuances of scheduled trial dates, citing reasons like calendar conflicts. When those requests were denied by Workers’ Compensation Judges, the attorneys then filed petitions for reconsideration on the day of trial which automatically halted the proceedings.

In scathing language, the en banc panel concluded these petitions were filed “with willful intent to disrupt or delay” and were “indisputably without merit” since petitions for reconsideration are only proper for challenging final orders, not routine matters like continuances.

The Board imposed the maximum $2,500.00 sanction per incident against each attorney, totaling $20,000.00 per attorney. They were also ordered to pay the reasonable expenses and attorneys’ fees incurred by the other parties due to their actions.

Garrett and her associate argued their conduct was justified, citing reasons like calendar conflicts and health issues. However, the Board rejected these arguments, finding their responses “lack[ed] any genuine remorse” and “trivialized” the seriousness of their tactics which significantly hampered the Appeals Board’s work.

This en banc decision reinforces that the Appeals Board has limited tolerance for attorneys who abuse legal procedures solely to cause delay. The ruling underscores the duties of candor and professional conduct that attorneys must follow in their practice before the Board. The significant monetary sanctions imposed highlight the potential severe consequences when an attorney’s conduct crosses the line into frivolous or improper litigation tactics.

The decision serves as a cautionary tale to all workers’ compensation practitioners on the importance of following proper procedures and using the appropriate legal mechanisms, like petitions for removal for interim orders. As this ruling shows, the Appeals Board is willing to wield its authority to curb systemic abuses and will not hesitate to impose harsh sanctions against those who knowingly flout its rules and processes.

At Yrulegui & Roberts, our workers’ compensation defense attorneys have the skills and experience to take on all types of workers’ compensation fraud cases. Have questions about your legal options? Contact us right away for a strictly confidential, no obligation initial appointment. Our firm handles workers’ compensation defense cases throughout the state of California.