Ex-Parte Discussions with WC judge. Yesterday I had a scheduled MSC. A new defense attorney showed up and the first thing he said was that we needed to talk to the judge about consolidating my two WC injury cases. He said that his office had told him that the judge wanted to do this consolidation, which was the first I had heard about it. It seems to me that this is highly improper for the judge to be having any such discussions with one side without the other side present. Was this a huge violation of the law and if so, what should I do?
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1 Answer from Attorneys
Generally yes, a Workers Comp judge will avoid having any discussion of the claim without both parties present. That said, a defense attorney can ask the judge if the conference was set on one or both of the ongoing claims, which does not entail a discussion of the merits of either claim. When a judge sees there are multiple claims but only one was set for hearing, the judge is correct in not wishing to hear the same evidence on the same worker more than once. So it was appropriate for the judge to tell the defense attorney to go get you to join in chambers regarding the two claims being united so the judge only has your matters on his/her calendar one time for all claims and only has to hear the evidence one time.