Valdez v. Himmelfarb, 144 Cal. App. 4th 1261 (2006)

Elias Valdez alleged that he was injured in the course of his employment as a cook, janitor, dishwasher, and gardener at defendants’ Malibu restaurant. Valdez sued for personal injury, unfair competition, and declaratory relief based on defendants’ failure to carry workers’ compensation insurance as required by statute, but defendants contended that Valdez’s claims were barred by the one-year statute of limitations applicable to tort actions that was in effect when Valdez filed his lawsuit. The Court of Appeal reversed the summary judgment that had been entered in favor of defendants on the ground that a three-year statute of limitations (based on liability created by statute), not the tort statute, should have been applied. Further, the Court held that the statute of limitations had been equitably tolled while Valdez was pursuing his workers’ compensation claim. Finally, the Court held that it would be an abuse of discretion for the trial court not to reconsider its entry of a $54,000 sanctions order against Valdez in light of the appellate court’s opinion here. See also Matea v. WCAB, 144 Cal. App. 4th 1435 (2006) (employee who was injured by a shelf of lumber that gave way was entitled to compensation for psychiatric injury even though the accident occurred during the first six months of his employment); Six Flags, Inc. v. WCAB, 145 Cal. App. 4th 91 (2006) (workers’ compensation law requiring employer to pay $250,000 death benefit to the estate of a deceased worker who had no dependents is unconstitutional); Williams v. OSHRC, 464 F.3d 1060 (9th Cir. 2006) ($91,000 OSHA penalty upheld against construction company whose employee died in a trench collapse).