On May 27, 2020, in County of Santa Clara v. WCAB(Justice), the 6th District Court of Appeals held that permanent disability could be apportioned to non-industrial factors pursuant to Labor Code Section 4663 following industrial medical or surgical treatment regardless if it is directly caused by the work-related injury. The holding follows the finding in Petaluma which states that when there is unrebutted substantial medical evidence that non-industrial factors caused permanent disability, permanent disability shall be apportioned pursuant to the Labor Code. The non-industrial factors include pathology, asymptomatic prior conditions and retroactive prophylactic work preclusions. The Applicant in this matter had non-industrial, preexisting knee degeneration that caused 50% of the resulting post-surgical permanent disability.
The Court provided a narrow interpretation of Hikida finding that it only precludes apportionment when the sole cause of the permanent disability is the industrial medical treatment. Here, the industrial medical treatment did not result in a new compensable consequential injury and the permanent disability was not caused solely by the industrial medical treatment. In sum, the facts of both cases differ but the Court’s interpretation of Hikida limits its scope and applicability.