Le Parc Community Ass’n v. WCAB, 110 Cal. App. 4th 1161 (2003)

Tim Curren, an employee of Advance Property Management (APM), was injured when he fell from a roof while cleaning the rain gutters of one of the properties owned by Le Parc Community Association. (Le Parc had retained APM to perform roof repairs, tree trimming and other maintenance activities.) In addition to filing an application for workers’ compensation benefits against APM and Le Parc, Curren filed a civil lawsuit against both since neither company maintained workers’ compensation insurance. As part of the settlement of the civil action, Curren signed a Settlement Agreement and Release of All Claims. Le Parc then moved to dismiss the still-pending workers’ compensation proceeding on the ground that the settlement agreement had resolved all of Curren’s claims, including those pending before the WCAB. Although the workers’ compensation judge granted Le Parc’s motion, the WCAB rescinded the judge’s order, and Le Parc filed a writ petition with the Court of Appeal. The appellate court affirmed the WCAB’s order, holding that Curren’s civil action was not based on the same cause of action as his application for workers’ compensation benefits and, therefore, the release in the former action did not bar the latter. Cf. Canton Poultry & Deli, Inc. v. Stockwell, Harris, Widom & Woolverton, 109 Cal. App. 4th 1219 (2003) (workers’ compensation defense counsel was not liable for failing to inform employer of possible settlement of civil action along with workers’ compensation claim).