Boxer & Gerson attorneys Bert Arnold and Tiffany Speers sat on separate expert panels over the four-day Winter Convention of the California Applicants Attorneys Association (CAAA) held from January 24-27 at the Sheraton Hotel in San Diego. The event attracted some 1,000 workers’ compensation attorneys from around the state who were pursuing continuing education hours in their field. The convention is notable for offering tightly focused presentations and no concurrent sessions, so each 75-minute panel attracts a capacity audience in the hotel’s large conference facility.
Arnold is a longtime partner in the firm who has previously served as president of the CAAA. Speers, a former managing partner of a large workers’ compensation defense firm in San Francisco, joined Boxer & Gerson last year as an associate attorney. Both she and Arnold hold the coveted workers’ compensation specialist designation from the State Bar of California.
Arnold’s session, entitled “Addition According to Kite,” kicked off the convention on Thursday afternoon. He joined three other panelists in discussing the far-reaching implications of a notable case in the workers’ comp field—Kite vs. Athens Administrators—that was originally litigated and won before the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board by Boxer & Gerson founding partner Michael Gerson.
Gerson represented Richard Kite, who suffered injuries to both hips that rendered him disabled. Prior to his case, courts had worked from a complex formula for determining the total disability resulting from injury to more than one body part, which sometimes had the effect of significantly limiting the injured worker’s award. Gerson showed by applying a simpler formula that the total disability from Kite’s multiple injuries warranted a larger award.
Other case law since that time has helped further shape workers’ comp awards involving multiple injuries, and Arnold’s session helped shed more light on what remains a complex issue in the field.
Speers’s Saturday morning panel was entitled “How to Work with the Medicare Set-Aside That Lands on Your Desk.” A Workers’ Compensation Medicare Set-Aside Arrangement (WCMSA) allocates a portion of a workers’ compensation settlement to pay for future medical services once an injured worker joins the Medicare system. This is to help protect Medicare from bearing the total financial burden for a recipient with extensive medical expenses caused by a previous injury for which there has been a workers’ compensation award.
Defense attorneys hope to limit the set-aside amount on behalf of their insurance company clients, while applicant attorneys want to ensure that the set-aside is sufficient to cover all aspects of medical treatment. As a former defense attorney, Speers focused her own comments on reviewing common tactics that defense firms employ to try to limit set-aside sums.