By: Chris Aguiar, Esq.
I fight for the rights of my clients every single day. Typically, though, the fight takes place while sitting in the confines of my office by way of telephone or email communication. Recently, though, it has become increasingly more common for The Phia Group to have to actually appear in court in front of a judge or administrative board; such was the case last week. An administrative worker’s compensation board in California who is constantly attempting to reduce its workload and eradicate the existence of worker’s compensation liens they so lovingly refer to “Zombie Liens”, or liens that have been bought/sold/assigned. Simply, the board refuses to want to deal with those types of liens. What a surprise to me, then, when several of my clients had their liens summarily dismissed without any due process or a hearing on the matter since, as we know, no assignment of rights occurs to the administrator or vendor in a traditional self-funded situation. So, off to California I went on behalf of a client to explain to the board it’s fundamental misunderstanding of self-funding and how the interests of our clients have not been sold or assigned to The Phia Group or the claims administrator, rather, we are simply acting on their behalf in an effort to recoup funds that are rightly of the self-funded benefit plans and their beneficiaries.
Make no mistake, this was no easy task. The Administrative Judge was hell bent on removing our client’s lien and though I don’t think I made any allies, I was able to effectively convince her that the lien should be reinstated because although she was confident that her reading of the law was clear, members of her own organization had ruled all over the map with regard to the law that was so abundantly clear it could not possibly be interpreted in a manner inconsistent with this judges opinion (…. Can you sense my sarcasm here?).
In the end, The Phia Group was able to get its 2nd lien in as many attempts reinstated. We’ll keep fighting the good fight on behalf of our clients, and while I enjoy California very much, I hope to be able to win these from the comfort of our offices in Braintree from here on out. Here’s hoping!