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Beltran may be the new Thomas


On 08/03/16, the WCAB reversed a Pomona District Office WCJ Order and issued an Opinion and Order Granting Petition for Reconsideration and Decision after Reconsideration for the case of Juan Pablo Beltran v. Structural Steel Fabricators (ADJ9721385). The court found that where there is a good faith dispute which, if resolved against applicant, would defeat his entitlement to all workers’ compensation benefits, applicant may settle his claim by a Compromise and Release Agreement that also settles his potential right to the Supplemental Job Displacement Benefits Voucher.

The court’s rational relied on the analogies between Beltran and Thomas v. Sports Chalet (1977) 42 Cal.Comp.Cases 625 [Appeals Board En Blanc.]. In Thomas, the court held that settlement of VR benefits in a C&R is permitted only when a serious and good faith issue exists, which if resolved against the applicant, would defeat all right to compensation. Similarly, where the trier of fact makes an express finding based upon the record that a serious and good faith issue exists to justify a release, a C&R Agreement may be approved by the Board which will relieve the employer from liability for the SJDV.

Accordingly, parties may settle an Applicant’s SJDV by C&R so long as the C&R sets forth the basis for an express finding that a serious and good faith issue exists that would justify the release of the SJDV.
The case of Beltran applies to resolution of the SJDV for injuries occurring on or after 01/01/2013. Thomas language used to settle VR vouchers can now be used to settle out the SJDV, citing Beltran in place of Thomas.

Beltran is not binding precedent as it comes from a panel decision.