What’s Good For the Goose…

Emilia Falkowski v. W.E. Bassett Company & Gallagher Bassett Services, Inc., 5711CRB-4-11-12, 40007604

The CRB upheld the trial commissioner’s determination that sanctions may be imposed against a claimant for an undue delay of a case. In the past, this sanction has been levied almost unilaterally against respondents. This case provides for an interesting recitation of case law on the issue of undue delay.

 In this case, the trial commissioner had ordered a commissioner’s exam and further ordered that all of the necessary medical records be provided to the commission by a date certain. The date came and went without the commissioner having received the medical records requisite to having a meaningful commissioner’s exam. As a consequence, the commissioner imposed a $100.00 fine against the claimant’s counsel for his undue delay. The CRB remanded the matter to the trial commissioner to direct the fine be levied against the party, rather than the counsel, pursuant to the underlying statute, 31-288(b). The CRB decision specifically references a memorandum promulgated by the chairman’s office regarding the procedures for commissioner’s exams, and the language in the memorandum allowing the imposition of sanctions if the party responsible for providing medical records fails to do so in a timely fashion.  The CRB upbraided claimant’s counsel for its “lack of respect to the tribunal and the administrative procedures utilized to accomplish the purpose of the Act.”

 Clearly, had claimant’s counsel requested an extension and provided some reasonable explanation prior to the expiration of the date certain for production of the records, the commissioner would not have levied the sanctions. The take-away from this case is, as the CRB reminds us, is: “the purpose of the system is to provide a prompt, efficient, simple and inexpensive procedure for obtaining benefits related to employment.”

And there really is an Easter bunny.

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