Workers Comp Zone


It’s never been clear why Governor Brown has been so slow to exercise appointments to the WCAB.

But at any rate Brown has now exercised that power, appointing Jose Razo to the WCAB.

Razo, a journeyman workers’ comp practitioner, comes most recently from Laughlin, Falbo, Levy and Moresi, a statewide defense firm with an excellent reputation. Former WCAB Commissioner Alfonso Moresi, a name partner at Laughlin, Falbo preceded Razo on the board til he elected to not seek another term.

And looking back further in time, Laughlin , Falbo partner C.Gordon Taylor served as WCAB Chairperson during the mid-1980’s.

Razo is known for his friendly and accessible demeanor. Although his seat is subject to legislative confirmation, I would not anticipate any major opposition.

To his credit, Brown continues to appoint experienced attorneys to the board.

The board has been operating with several open slots, and Brown has another appointment he can make. WCAB Chairperson Ronnie Caplane has publicly stated on a number of occasions that she has lobbied to Governor’s office to appoint a full slate of Commissioners.

Along with the Razo appointment, Brown reappointed Deirdre Lowe to a Commissioner slot.

The WCAB is now totally populated by Northern Californians (all of whom practiced in the San Francisco Bay area except Marguerite Sweeney, who practiced as an applicant attorney in Redding and Chico). It’s quite likely that a Southern Californian will be named to the remaining vacant seat.

One always wonders what questions are asked of prospective appointees by DIR/DWC officials.

In an administration determined to enforce its vision of the success of SB 863 reforms, it’s not hard to imagine that appointees are vetted on their view of the reforms.

But one need only look to the U.S. Supreme Court to see how appointments can be unpredictable. Justices such as Blackmun, Souter, and Kennedy turned out to have much more nuanced views than anticipated by their sponsors.

So whatever the vetting process, I don’t put too much stock in it.

In the coming few years the California WCAB will likely have to rule on a number of thorny questions arising out of the 2012 reforms and the massive amount of regulatory rule making required by SB 863.

Welcome to the WCAB, Mr. Razo, and may you have a distinguished career there.

Julius Young