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California: New W.C.A.B. Commissioner Appointed by Governor

Posted on 14 February 2012 by admin

Posted by

Richard M. Jacobsmeyer

Governor Jerry Brown’s website today announced the appointment to the W.C.A.B. of , a widely respected applicant’s attorney from Northern California. Ms. Sweeney joins the W.C.A.B. as former Commissioner Joseph Miller departs at the end of his term earlier this month. The new appointment still leaves the W.C.A.B. short 2 members but is at least an optimistic sign that the Governor is aware of the need for appointments to the remaining open seats.

Ms. Sweeney has been an attorney since 1978 practicing in the Redding area for most of her career. She is best known for her work representing the applicant in Sandhagen v W.C.A.B., a case in which she convinced the California Supreme Court to limit employer’s ability to challenge requests for authorization to Utilization Review under Labor Code § 4610. She persevered in pursing that issue after an adverse W.C.A.B. en banc decision and an adverse Court of Appeals decision. Her skill and effort earned her the award as applicant attorney as Applicant Attorney of the year from the State Bar Workers’ Compensation Section in 2007.

Commissioners serve 6 year terms and require Senate approval. Sweeney can serve for up to a year waiting for Senate approval but will likely not have to wait that long. Her nomination is likely to be viewed favorable by both applicant and defense bars as she is widely respected and liked on both sides of the fence. While viewed as a passionate advocate on behalf of her clients, she has made her points through careful and thoughtful legal arguments presented in graceful yet firm manner, traits that should serve her well in her new position.

The Governor’s announcement reads as follows:

Marguerite Sweeney, 60, of Redding, has been appointed to the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board. Sweeney has been the principal attorney at the Law Office of Marguerite Sweeney since 1990. She was an attorney at Sweeney and Sweeney from 1982 to 1989 and an associate attorney at Baker Cornell and Baumbach from 1979 to 1982. In 2007, Sweeney received the Applicants Attorney of the Year award from the State Bar of California Workers’ Compensation Section. She is a member of the California Applicants Attorney Association and the Redding Chamber of Commerce. Sweeney earned a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $128,109. Sweeney is a Democrat.

On a personal note, I can say I have known and admired Marguerite for close to 30 years starting when we served together for several terms on the Northern California Board of Governors of CAAA in our formative years as young applicant attorneys. Most recently I spoke on a panel with Marguerite at Richard Montarbo’s Annual program in Sacramento (one of the best education experiences available). The amount of work she put into the program and the knowledge she demonstrated were amazing; undoubtedly foreshadowing the effort she will put in as commissioner. Marguerite was always perceived as an advocate who looked for balance and rationality to evaluating issues and in her approach to the law. She was always willing to engage in discussion, firm in her own position but respectful of other’s issues.

The one issue she could not be viewed as a moderate on was the passion with which she sought to protect the rights of her clients and obtain the best results for those she represented. I cannot imagine a better choice for the W.C.A.B. in terms of knowledge, integrity and passion for workers’ compensation. I do not expect her to agree with my clients, or me, on all issues, but we will all know we have been heard and our concerns considered. She is certainly a welcome addition to an already hardworking, knowledgeable, but shorthanded (hint, hint Gov) W.C.A.B.

© Copyright 2012 Richard M. Jacobsmeyer. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.

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