Workers Comp Zone


Gov. Schwarzenegger announced three appointments to the WCAB yesterday.

Re-appointed (as I predicted) were James Cuneo and Frank Brass. Cuneo and Brass have been in the majority in most of the WCAB’s decisions over the past several years. It’s a board that, in close cases, has given the nod toward the insurance industry position (citing the intent of SB 899 to reduce comp costs) rather than the employee position (note: the Labor Code still does have a provision for liberal construction of the law in favor of the employee).

Also appointed was Deirdre Lowe, a Northern Californian. Ms. Lowe is a longtime partner with the San Francisco office of Hanna, Brophy et al. Her husband, Michael Lowe, continues as a partner at H&B’s San Francisco office. On a personal level, Lowe is one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet (as are Brass and Cuneo). Her appointment will eventually require confirmation by the California Senate.

I’ve known Ms. Lowe since my early days in Sacramento practicing with Eugene Treaster. Back then, Deirdre Lowe was an applicants’ attorney with Green and Azevedo. There she worked with Don Green, longtime lobbyist for the California Applicants Attorneys. That office turned out to be a generator of many creative attorneys. Other alumni there include Michael Marks (formerly of Finnegan, Marks & Hampton in San Francisco), one of the top defense attorneys in California who later has consulted on appellate issues from his Vermont abode.

With these picks, Schwarzenegger continues the pattern of appointing experienced defense attorneys to the WCAB. Cuneo, Brass and Lowe join Alfonso Moresi on the board. Also on the board is Ronnie Caplane and Joseph Miller.
Interestingly, all are Northern Californians except Miller.

Schwarzenegger has another vacancy to fill. There had been rumors that one of the candidates was Oakland defense lawyer Steve Jiminez. But Jiminez died tragically in his sleep about a week ago at the age of 52, leaving many friends in the industry shocked at his untimely demise.

These appointments will shape the law in California for years to come.

Stay tuned.

Julius Young
(you can see my bio here:

Category: Political developments