A series of articles emphasizing practical
knowledge you can't find in practice guides
and interviews with experts who share
their techniques for effective and efficient
case management
  How To Do It: Articles, Interviews
& Practice Tips

Articles emphasizing practical knowledge you
can't find in practice guides

  People Who Made A Difference
Profiles of people who changed workers’ compensation law.

  White Papers

  Letters to the Editors

  Meet the Editors
• Warren Schneider
• Marjory Harris



Excuse my ranting, but I am mad as hell. “Mad” not as mad scientist mad or Mad TV mad, but in “12 Angry Men” mad, perturbed, pissed off mad. Our workers’ compensation system is broken. EAMS seems to be designed to facilitate the demise of our system. For over 20 years, I have worked with people on all sides of the WC spectrum. For over 20 years, most of those people have had an interest in an efficiently run system and have worked to promote such a system.

But now, it seems the DWC is attempting to undermine the system by accepting EAMS as the “technology of the future.” I am not a techo-geek nor a techno-phobe. I do believe in this day and age we need to be able to update our abilities to communicate, store work product and become more efficient. In a past article, I embraced the need for an updated WCAB computer system: However, after reading a report put out by the DIR (EAMS Special Project Report dated July 22, 2008), it is clear that the EAMS system was dead on arrival. The project developers and coordinators appear to have grossly mishandled the system causing the various management teams to waste time and money on a system which was not properly designed.

The DIR owes an apology to the various teams, including the testing and training teams, for providing a dead system which could not be resuscitated. The system was only designed to handle 1000 concurrent external users. The DIR estimates that external use would be between 2,000 to 100,000 users. Excuse me, but why would the DIR authorize a system to allow as few as one percent of the external users to access the system? Each user will require a license to be a legal user. This is ridiculous!!

How can one explain why only 1000 licenses were provided? Either there was an oversight, in which case every one of the persons involved should be flogged and then fired; or there was a conscious decision to limit access to end users. In such a situation, major legislative changes could be demanded to “solve” the problem. But, in light of the recent legislative antics, I doubt we can expect much help from the legislative branch.

In any case, where is the oversight? Why has the elephant in the room been ignored? Why are we requested to “Narc” on the judges who go around the system to get their work done? If the judges worked within the system on each file, nothing would be accomplished.

For instance, our office is required to electronically file all exhibits through EAMS. When we arrive at the hearing, do you think the electronically filed documents exist in the system? Does the judge have access to them? Nope. They are somewhere in the system, but we need to bring a hard copy. Save a tree, right?

Our clients, whether defense, applicant or lien, cannot receive a timely hearing with this system in place. Do we have due process issues? How about basic processing issues? At a recent Monday hearing, a Northern California judge was inundated with over 40 MSCs on his morning calendar. We were told there was an EAMS issue in the scheduling. So, half the calendar was continued to other dates. What a waste of time and money for all involved.

If the opposite of “pro” is “con” what is the opposite of “Progress”?

Does our state legislature (read congress) have any idea what is happening with EAMS? If the Legislature were to shut down due to lack of funds, would anyone really care? The EAMS administrators seem to be able to dip into millions of dollars. Is anyone overseeing this waste of funds?

Where did the first $50 Mil go? Who in their right mind really thinks that blowing another $50 M will solve the problems the EAMS system has created?

Solution: Start from scratch (fire every administrator associated with the current system and the developer). Make sure that the system is “user friendly” and does not require multiple functions/clicks of a button to open a document. And next time, make sure you have enough licenses and band width for the number of users.

If the system is not revised soon, the users, judges, attorneys, carriers, support personnel, will end up taking matters into their own hands. i.e. local rules.

Why would the DWC provide a press release announcing an award for EAMS? Everyone knows the developer of the system was on the board that provided the award. DWC, how about keeping quiet on that award? It certainly is not for excellence.

On to other subjects: I have lots of questions and some suggestions:

Some people are mad about the recent video-spoof played on YouTube using Hitler with subtitles. (I forget the name of the movie used in the spoof. However, the actor playing Hitler did a heck of a job.) The instigator of the spoof upset some people much like Voltaire upset the supporters of the Kings of France and Spain and the Pope or Swift upset the English. Now, before you think that I dare to compare the author of the subtitles to Voltaire or Swift (there is no comparison and he knows it), the issue is satire; not Nazi politics.

Satire can burn like a laser ray, frost bite or fire. Each has a differing set of properties, but the result can be the same. Satire usually hits home because there is a bit of truth and irony in it. We can learn from it if we are not so defensive.

How can the WCAB Commissioners and staff spend 10 months analyzing the Almarez/Guzman cases, issue a 50 plus-page decision and then claim they did not realize the reaction that decision would create? And then they seek input from the community? Outrageous!

Solution: Stand by your decision and let the courts hash it out. Since the decision was not stayed, extra expense and time have been wasted.

Did the commissioners issue the decision to prod the Governor and the Legislature to provide an updated PD Schedule? Come on, Governor, get your people to release the updated schedule.

Are we a people who are really governed by law? Is the Workers’ Compensation system a system of laws or individual edicts? What is law? Who really makes it? And how are the laws applied? Every time the Legislature makes “feel good” laws to “protect” us from ourselves, we lose a little freedom or we turn into criminals. At the very least, we lose respect for the law.

Regarding the California and local budgets, I wish our elected officials would stop begging Washington for money. The TARP program really shows what will happen. The state and local governments lose control to the Feds. Ever hear of Federalism? We usually elect local officials to focus on local issues, since they know our local areas. Do we want some non-elected person in another state or area to have control over local decision-making? Not me.

Solution: The State needs to stop trying to steal money from the local governments and put together a budget which will reduce services. Go back to the 2004-2005 Budget. Any laws which created new programs or costs would be repealed. The problem is not a two-thirds majority to pass the budget. The problem is too much spending.

Is the making of a law like making sausage or is it more like a sewage treatment plant? Does fecal matter get processed at the Legislature and we end up with the remnants? Everyone knows what flows down hill and it ain’t clean water.

Does anyone really believe that a “single payer” system of health care will create a more efficient delivery model for health care? The VA has had over 100 years of experience in providing a system of health care. Now we find out more than half of the facilities cannot even pass tests concerning colonoscopies. Again, what flows down hill?

We need to focus on evidence-based medicine to make sure that our injured workers receive proper care at a reasonable price. In the past, our injured workers were used as guinea pigs by providers who practiced new procedures on them. Most times, those procedures were not successful. Let’s focus on reducing injuries, getting proper treatment for our injured workers and get them back to work in a prompt manner. Extending TTD or adding additional body parts to increase PD is not an answer for most people. People need to work and we need to focus on return to the working world.

Michael G. McDonald is the founder of McDonald Law Corporation in Concord, California and a Certified Specialist in Workers' Compensation Law, State Bar
of California. He is a Director for the California Workers' Compensation Defense Attorneys Association.

For more information, click here.

Michael G. McDonald, Esq.

McDonald Law Corporation
1800 Sutter Street, Suite 430
Concord, CA 94520-2563
Voice: (925) 363-4380
Fax: (925) 363-4352
Other locations: Sacramento, San Jose and Fresno


> Reflections on Almaraz Guzman
> Pain & the Brain: Imaging Methods
> Functional Capacity Evaluation
> Defense Perspective: Mad as Hell
> Computer Corner: TextMap
> Editor's Rant: A Dog's Breakfast
The Defense Perspective:
I'm Mad as Hell
By Michael G. McDonald, Esq.

In this series, Michael G. McDonald, Esq.
of the McDonald Law Corporation offers
practical advice to WC lawyers and adjustors.

Sometimes, he just needs to rant…