Third District Weighs in on Almaraz/Guzman

The California Court of Appeal, Third District, recently weighed in on rating by analogy pursuant to the Almaraz/Guzman decision. In City of Sacramento v. WCAB (Cannon), the applicant was suffering from plantar fasciitis, a painful foot condition which does not lead to any impairment under a strict interpretation of the AMA Guides. The AME noted the condition did in fact interfere with some of the applicant’s activities. Therefore, the AME used the gait derangement table of the Guides to assign 7% whole person impairment.

The case proceeded to trial, where the city argued rating by analogy was only permissible in complex or extraordinary cases. The city prevailed at trial and the trial WCJ found no permanent disability. However, the decision was reversed on reconsideration. The Appeals Board found that the “complex or extraordinary” language in Guzman did not limit rating by analogy to those unusual cases. The Board found the 7% impairment rating by analogy proper.

The city sought a writ of review. The Court of Appeal affirmed the Appeals Board, finding there was no requirement that a medical condition be “complex or extraordinary” in order to be rated by analogy under Almaraz/Guzman, at least for poorly understood conditions or those manifested only by subjective complaints. The Court of Appeal found the city had shown no error in the AME’s assessment that the plantar fasciitis resulted in 7% impairment equivalent to a limp from arthritis.

This decision was not originally certified for publication. However, it has since been ordered published and can be cited or relied on in any legal proceedings. This decision suggests a more permissive standard for rating by analogy than originally thought, which may lead to greater frequency of Almaraz/Guzman ratings.

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