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Simas & Associates, Ltd. Newsletter | April 1, 2016 | Volume IV, Issue 4
Firm Announcement

Client Gets Disability Retirement After All

Sacramento, CA — Another month, another victory for a public employee disability retiree.

Earlier this month, Simas & Associates, Ltd. secured a settlement of an application for disability retirement for a county employee. The settlement was secured on the eve of a scheduled, 2-day adversarial evidentiary hearing before the California Office of Administrative Hearings. Four medical experts had been subpoenaed to testify regarding whether the client was disabled and whether the disability was service-connection. 

"Again, this was another long time case for our law firm," explained Justin D. Hein, Managing Attorney of Simas & Associates, Ltd. "We had been working on it for well over a year. And the client only came to us fifteen months after filing the original application." 

The disability triggering the retirement was one of many maladies suffered by the employee, all with similar symptoms and impact. As a result of the continued employment, the employee contended that the disability worsened to a critical stage, making continued employment impossible. Furthermore, because the condition worsened so much as a result of the working conditions, that the disabling condition itself was caused by the work.

"The retirement board did not agree with either contention," continue Hein. "In fact, what was notable was that their own expert witness agreed with the assessment that our client was disabled and disagreed only with the industrial or service origination. It was only after some prodding by the retirement board that their own expert opined that there was a potential unexplored treatment that could have addressed the disability, rendering the employee able to return to work." 

However, such a treatment was never offered to the retiring employee. 

"That was because the treatment was not the definitive treatment for the disability," explained Hein. "Rather, it was a treatment type that was limited for particular cases, one that our client's condition did not meet. Furthermore, the treatment would have had substantial side effects, many of which could have triggered significant health consequences to our client, given the other maladies our client suffered." 

Ultimately, the attorney for the retirement board saw the light of day.

"I think the hearing brief that I put together with Rachelle helped opposing counsel 'get it'," contended Hein. "I think he realized that he had a sheer cliff he was facing." 

As a result, the parties were able to avoid the adversarial hearing and come to an agreement on the disability retirement application. 



"It was the correct result," explained Hein. "Probably 30 months late, but the correct result, nonetheless."

For more information on Simas & Associates, Ltd. and its employment law and administrative hearing practice please visit our website at www.simasgovlaw.com.
Staff Announcement

Lindsay Makes and Wins her First Appearance

In October 2015, Simas & Associates, Ltd. hired Lindsay H. Yoshitomi as a new Associate Attorney at the firm's Sacramento location. Since that time, she has mostly been working behind the scenes, performing research, writing motions and briefs, and has attended a couple administrative proceedings for training purposes. Last Friday, the law firm had a last minute appearance for a law and motion at Sacramento Superior Court, so Lindsay was called out of the bullpen and up to bat. Below is her account of the experience.
 
I had my first in court appearance EVER, last week. It only lasted five minutes, but it might as well have been five hours.

After navigating the maze of one-way streets, I found my way to the courthouse, and more importantly, found parking downtown. Approaching the building, I was a bit apprehensive. Where do I go? Where do I check in? What happens if Julianne (our paralegal) doesn’t make it here in time? I just let instincts and the herd mentality take over – following others through the security line, cramming in a too-full elevator, and following other attorneys to the department I was going to.

Checking in requires giving your business card to the court clerk so she/he knows how to spell your name for the record. Being relatively new to the firm, I did not have my own card at the time, and had to provide someone else’s card with the name crossed out and mine hand written next to it. Court – 1, Lindsay – 0.



I was there for a civil matter, so I had to sit through the criminal proceedings first. It was helpful to see how things are done before it was my turn, but waiting is always the worst. After sitting in the courtroom for 45 minutes, I was still nervous, but more relaxed. Then my case was called! Instantly I had a flashback to law school and being called on to endure the Socratic method for the first time. I approached the bench, appropriately addressed the judge as “your honor,” and clearly stated my name, firm, and client. Court – 1, Lindsay – 1. I was appearing to fix a simple clerical error on a motion, so I was only before the judge for about five minutes, but judges are intimidating no matter why you have to see them. The judge granted our motion after a helpful explanation from Julianne, and the court clerk gave me a stamped copy for our records. Court – 1, Lindsay/Julianne – 2. Win! A small win, but still a win, and at least next time I won’t have to worry about the procedural aspects of appearing in court.


Congratulations, Lindsay! It is all downhill from here. We promise. 
Client/Vendor of the Month
 
Bess Testlab, Inc.
2463 Tripaldi Way
Hayward, CA 94545
P: (408) 988-0101
F: (408) 988-0103
www.besstestlab.com

Bess Testlab, Inc. is a CPUC certified MBE/DBE company that provides a complete range of Services in California, Arizona and Nevada. Its clientele include Utility Companies, Cities, Counties, Municipalities and Military Installations, Contractors, Consulting and Engineering firms. 

Bess's utility locating services are performed by certified professional technicians. It uses state-of-the-art cable and pipe locators, pipeline current mappers, Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) systems as well as 3-D mobile scanning (LiDAR) to designate and map underground utilities. In addition, it also has a fleet of vacuum excavation (potholing) trucks used to locate and determine visually the actual depth of underground utilities.

Simas & Associates, Ltd. appreciates the opportunity to serve Bess Testlab, Inc. as its counsel. If you would like to be featured as our law firm’s “Client/Vendor of the Month,” please contact us at info@simasgovlaw.com
Featured Agency Announcement

Pregnancy Disability Leave Amendments Bring Poster Changes to California Employers

Sacramento, CA — California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) regulations were approved earlier this years and will take effect on April 1, 2016 (i.e. today!)

The amended regulations include clarifications regarding pregnancy disability leave, as well as changes to the mandatory pregnancy disability leave poster requirement — “Your Rights and Obligations as a Pregnant Employee.” California’s pregnancy disability leave laws apply to any employer with five or more full-time or part-time employees and to all California public sector employers.

Covered employers are required to post a specific notice to employees explaining their rights and obligations regarding pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions.  The notice includes information about:
  • An employee’s right to request reasonable accommodation, transfer or pregnancy disability leave.
  • An employee’s obligations to provide adequate advance notice.
  • The employer’s requirement, if any, that the employee provide medical certification of the need for pregnancy disability leave, reasonable accommodation or transfer.
A poster has been developed by DFEH and covered employers must post and keep posted the notice in a conspicuous place where employees can easily read it. Electronic posting is permitted, as long as the notice is posted in a conspicuous place or places where employees would tend to view it in the workplace. 
Featured Blog Entry

Terrifying Tale of a Board Investigation

This blog is to describe an investigation from a Department of Consumer Affairs (“DCA”) licensing board so egregious that it must be reported here. The names of everyone involved have been changed “to protect the innocent” and to respect our cooperative and professional relationships we maintain with DCA licensing boards.

Let’s call her Susan – has had a license to practice as a “practitioner” before the Practitioner Board for approximately 20 years. As many licensed professionals, Susan has had a past disciplinary action regarding a discrepancy in her billing about which a consumer complaint and the Board responded. Susan dutifully complied with the terms of the prior case, including a brief probationary period, and, at the time of the investigation of which this blog addresses, had a free and clear practitioner’s license. Sometime in about 2013, the Practitioner Board decided that it wanted to see Susan’s billing and some of her client/patient files.  Susan obliged and sent this information. At that time, Susan did not believe (and had no idea) that she could have benefited from legal counsel given the Practitioner Board’s seemingly simple and straight forward request.

The Practitioner Board asked for a couple more rounds of documents based upon two consumer complaints – one stemming from timely submission of paperwork on behalf of a client/patient and the other stemming from a transmission of a client/patient file and information to a subsequent practitioner. Certainly, on its face, this investigation at this juncture seemed very innocuous to Susan.

Nearly a year into the investigation, and after Susan fulfilled her obligations as a licensed practitioner and submitted information the Practitioner Board requested, they insisted on meeting with her. While not all boards meet with licensees when they conduct investigations, such meetings are usually the result of many months of investigation and the board closing in on a conclusion in its process. Given this looming meeting, Susan retained our office.

To keep reading this entry, please click here:
Terrifying Tale of a Board Investigation. For more blog entries from our attorneys and legal staff, please visit our law firm’s official blog – Wit of Mandate.
Word of the Month

Affirmative Defense

A fact or set of facts other than those alleged by the plaintiff, claimant, or prosecutor which, if proven by the defendant, defeats or mitigates the legal consequences of the defendant's or respondent's otherwise unlawful or violative conduct. Typically, in asserting an affirmative defense, the defendant/respondent may concede that he/she committed the alleged acts, but asserts that other facts either justify or excuse his/her otherwise wrongful actions, or otherwise overcome the claim. In civil lawsuits, affirmative defenses include the statute of limitations, the statute of frauds, waiver, while in criminal prosecutions, examples of affirmative defenses are self defense, insanity, as well as the statute of limitations.

For more terms related to our practice areas, please visit our law firm’s glossary at 
SimasGovLaw.com - Glossary.
Upcoming Calendar

April 1 - Happy April Fools Day! And Happy 5th Anniversary to Michaele Simas!

April 2 - Reconciliation Day. It's never too late to make amends!

April 3 - MLB Opening Day!

April 7 - National Beer Day. What a holiday! Masters begins.

April 9 - Winston Churchill Day.

April 15 - Tax Day.

April 18 - Patriot's Day. Also, Boston Marathon. 

April 21 - San Luis Obispo Co. Bar Association, "
The Client Centered Law Firm." Also, the Sacramento Public Law Library, "Automating Your Case Evidence."

April 24 - London Marathon.

April 27 - Happy Administrative Professionals' Day!

April 28 - NFL Draft.

April 29 - Arbor Day. Also Sonoma Co. Bar Association, "
Legal Issues in the Wine & Craft Beer Industry."

May 1 - Happy May Day!

May 3 - National Teachers' Day.

May 4 - May the 4th be with You - Happy Star Wars Day!

May 5 - Cinco de Mayo!

And a big Happy Birthday to
Sharon Cain, celebrating a birthday this month! 
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