Hikida vs. WCAB (Costco Wholesale Corp.) (B279412): Rowen, Gurvey & Win triumph in major case at Court of Appeal effecting all injured workers' rights in California

2nd District Court of Appeal, June 23, 2020

The applicant had developed complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) as a result of failed surgery, which was authorized by her employer, Costco, to treat the industrial carpal tunnel injury to her hands.  The WCJ found that although the CRPS was the sole cause of the permanent disability leaving the applicant totally disabled, because the AME in orthopedics had found 10% apportionment to non-industrial factors for the carpal tunnel injury, the permanent disability from the CRPS that developed from the failed surgery should also be apportioned 10%.  The WCAB affirmed the finding.

 The Court of Appeal, in reversing the WCAB, held that it was improper to apply the 10% non-industrial apportionment of the carpal tunnel injury to the permanent disability caused by the complex regional pain syndrome.  Since the medical treatment for the industrial injury was the cause of the applicant’s ultimate disability, the Court of Appeal held that “an employer is responsible for both the medical treatment and any disability arising directly from unsuccessful medical intervention, without apportionment.”

 Thus, applicant was entitled to a 100% permanent disability award, as the effects of the complex regional pain syndrome, a condition separate and apart from the original carpal tunnel injury and was not subject to apportionment, left her permanently and totally disabled.