The WCAB unanimously approved another en banc decision regarding COVID-19. It is entitled “IN RE: COVID-19 STATE OF EMERGENCY EN BANC – NO. 2”. It holds that any document that would normally be filed directly with the Appeals Board may be sent by email to WCABEmergencyBox@dir.ca.gov.
This overrides, for the duration of the present crisis, CCR 1940(b) which states that no documents may be sent directly to the “by fax or email will be accepted for filing, unless otherwise ordered by the Appeals Board.” The CCR provides that document sent by email will be ignored or discarded.
Note that documents normally filed directly with the Appeals Board include those pertaining to a Petition for Reconsideration, or Removal, Disqualification of a WCJ and Answers therto. These are relatively rare documents, but are time sensitive. The decision is careful to point out that documents of this sort still must comply with all the other Rules and procedural requirements normally required. They should also include the information normally required by CCR 10520 and include an email address for the opposing party. They should be still also be filed with the local district office of the WCAB as per usual. A reminder is issued that the rules prohibiting ex parte communication remain.
The Appeals Board is comprised of seven Commissioners and is housed in San Francisco. It is not to be mistaken for the district offices, which are normally thought of by practitioners as the “Board” or “appeals board” colloquially. Thus very few documents are filed with the Appeals Board directly, but rather the local Workers Compensation Judge at the local board. Under this decision, the vast majority of document filings will still take place locally.
It is made clear that local filings may not normally be done by email. This en banc decision also provides that “Although ordinarily prohibited by the AD’s rules, the Appeals Board hereby orders that specific documents may be sent by email directly to the district offices. The district offices may accept by email solely documents subject to a statutory time limit where the party could not otherwise e-file, JET file or file the document by mail.” For these rare cases, the appropriate email can be found on the DWC’s website.