Notice: Passwords are now case-sensitive

Remember Me
Register a new account
Forgot your password?

2014 Comp Laude® Award Winners

The Comp Laude® Awards recognize Integrity, Excellence and Success in the Workers' Compensation industry. Each year, nominations are received and reviewed by a panel of industry judges. Comp Laude® awards are presented by WorkCompCentral at the annual Comp Laude® Gala.

Mark Walls, VP Communications & Strategic Analysis ? Safety National
Summa Comp Laude®

Summa Comp Laude is the highest distinction in the academic world, and thus it is in our awards world as well. More than recognizing academic achievement, to our judges the Summa Comp Laude is based on unwavering commitment to improving workers' compensation in all respects, recognizing the many different people that are necessary to accomplish the great mission of work comp; and understanding that while we all may have different ideas on how the ideal system should work, we do the best we can with what our lawmakers and regulators give us. This person has been in workers' compensation for as long, or longer, than most of us. He tirelessly promotes workers' compensation wherever he goes to make sure that people understand the truly important role it plays to the economy. It may seem odd that a white collar, insurance executive is the person we're going to recognize for this highest honor, but there really are very few people that demonstrate a true love for this industry and what its mission is than this person. You may know him from social media exposure. You may have seen him speak at conferences and other events. You may have read his many writings on work comp. He has challenged me many times in the past, and certainly we disagree on many work comp issues, but that's only because he really, really cares about the health of the workers' compensation industry and whether it is doing the best job it can to spread the risk of work injury or illness fairly across the employer base to provide adequate benefits to injured workers. It's not easy being Mark Walls, Vice President Communications & Strategic Analysis at Safety National, but if anyone can do it, Mark can. It is my distinct pleasure to present our highest Comp Laude recognition for his tireless, unrelenting, dedicated service to the workers' compensation mission to Mr. Mark Walls. ~David DePaolo

Marz Farms
Magna Comp Laude®

The Magna Comp Laude award goes to the person or entity that demonstrates worthiness of recognition with Great Honor. In the academic world this elevated distinction involved persons who achieve results placing them in the 80th percentile of all graduates. In the WorkCompCentral world this distinction is about the demonstration of extraordinary effort and resolve to make workers? comp the best it can be. We have so many to recognize in workers' compensation that this was a difficult decision for the judges. Rising above the rest means dedication to purpose - and in the case of Marz Farms that purpose is taking care of the single biggest asset the business has, it's employees. We've already heard about what Marz Farms has done for its employees with its ombudsmen intervening to ensure that injured workers not only get timely and expedient medical treatment, but a helping hand in understanding and navigating our complex system. In the farming world, and in fact in any employment world, Marz Farms stands out well above the rest and demonstrates they "get it." This is a philosophy that starts from the top down, so it is my pleasure to present the WorkCompCentral Magna Comp Laude award to Marz Farms. ~David DePaolo

Kids' Chance
Comp Laude

All of you know that I respect and admire volunteerism and community service. As a practicing dentist my father pursued charity and volunteerism with professional vengeance. He was instrumental in establishing a volunteer dental service in Mexico when I was growing up, recruiting dentists from all over California to donate their services, and even secured the importation of dental equipment into the country using the time honored "mordita" tradition. Even after retirement my father continued to exemplify selflessness by volunteering his time and money to local police departments, and received several awards through the years recognizing his efforts - in fact he was even memorialized post mortem by the Oceanside Police Department for his contributions. I told my dad once that, "when I grow up I want to be a philanthropist." I am far from growing up, but I hope to achieve that goal before I die. Making people's lives better is what workers' compensation is about. A work injury can be devastating not only to the worker, but the worker's family. There is a group that seeks to make a difference, through donations and volunteers, in the lives of the children affected by their wage-earner's work injury. This group exemplifies what is right with our industry - people seeking to elevate humanity and give back to those who have given so much of themselves. It is with great pleasure that I present Kids Chance with the WorkCompCentral top Comp Laude award for 2015. ~David DePaolo

Dwight Johnson
Injured Worker

Injured Worker Finalists: Tommy W. Linda A. Dwight J. Mary C. and the winner is? Dwight Johnson Mr. Johnson spent forty-two years installing and designing glass for high rise towers. Dwight spent time in the design phase with some of the most prominent architects in the world. The jobs that Mr. Johnson worked on included Burj Khalifa in Dubai (the tallest building in the world); Freedom Towers in New York City; 475 Park Avenue South in Manhattan; Red Building and Center Green Buildings, Pacific Design Center, West Hollywood. Dwight?s life changed drastically with the loss of his legs in two different industrial accidents. He has had to learn how to walk all over again. Since Dwight is not one to sit around and feel sorry for himself, he now has water legs for surfing and blades for running. Dwight is currently training to climb Mount Ranier. Dwight is a shining example of when something awful happens to you, don?t sit around and feel sorry for yourself. Have the inner strength and will to not only continue to live and to thrive, but to be an inspiration to others. Dwight counts his blessings every day, including his lovely wife of 37 years; 7 fantastic children; and 4 grandchildren. Dwight?s goal is to see everyone with prosthetics continue their lives as normal as possible. Thank you Dwight, for continually reminding me and those of us at WorkCompCentral, to make every day the best day ever!

Marz Farms

Employer Finalists: Stater Brothers Marz Farms Scripps Health Schools Insurance Authority University of California Safehold Special Risks (formerly Wells Fargo Ski Program) The Cheescake Factory and the winner is? Marz Farms Audelio Martinez has been growing berries with his brother Renato Martinez since 1995. These business partners got their start growing for Driscoll?s, but their farming "roots" go much deeper. Both brothers herald from a farming family in Mexico, so tending the land has always been a part of daily life. Audelio and his brother choose to grow for Driscoll?s because they treat their growers as partners and have everyone?s best interest at heart. The Martinez brothers learned from that and have crafted their own mission statement. Audelio says: "My philosophy is to treat all employees with respect, as if they are members of your own family." That philosophy filters down to when a worker gets injured on the job. Marz Farms goes above and beyond with respect to the care of their injured employees. This employer has approximately 2,500 employees doing -- on the whole -- difficult, field work. Recognizing the critical importance of their human capital, this employer has taken several notable steps to focus on this key resource. Marz' leadership has hired three employee advocates who serve in an ombudsman-type role. These individuals have no other function besides regular communication with employees, including assessment of their work conditions and any needed care that might lead to a workers? compensation claim. When a claim does arise, these advocates take the injured worker to the doctor, explain benefits and advocate for full care. It is remarkable for an employer to go so far in assisting employees to make claims and ensure proper care. Furthermore, when claims arise, Marz is aware that treating the injured worker with the utmost care is not only a pathway to recovery of full function, but also to decreasing claims costs through avoidance of litigation and other conflict. Recently, Marz had an employee who suffered a significant eye injury. In many circumstances, an employer might despair of bringing an employee who has lost an eye back to the workplace. But not Marz. Instead, they brought the individual back to work and found a permanent modification in duties that will allow him to be a full-time, productive and contributing member of the workforce and society. Due to Marz' approach, this individual never found the need to engage an attorney on his claim. In what can be a very difficult claims environment, Marz? open, honest, innovative approach to employee relations - even when that involves a claim - is a wonderful testament to how the system can work for all concerned.

Kids' Chance
Support Services

Support Services Finalists: Helios Carl Brakenseik, Executive Vice President, CSIMS Karen Heffernan, Director of Industry Advancement Program, Sedgewick Kids? Chance California Sharp Legal Imaging, Laura and Cecil Bindrum Prium and the winner is? Kids' Chance Kids' Chance California is a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide need-based scholarships to the children of California workers who have been fatally or seriously injured on the job. Kids' Chance was founded in 1988 in the state of Georgia and has expanded to 28 states over the last 24 years. Kids' Chance has awarded more than 2,000 scholarships totaling more than $5 million in educational assistance. Serious work-related accidents can have a devastating impact on families, especially children. The financial impact can be life shattering. The future can look frightening to someone whose parent or spouse has been seriously or fatally injured at work. Already confronting difficult emotions, they often must confront the hurdle of funding their education?the key to their future and ours. Each year, hundreds of kids face this challenge. We can make a difference in California. According to one nominator: "Kids' Chance could not be a more deserving organization to be recognized for good work in California. Their mission statement says it best. [Nominator's Company] as well as many other members of our industry are supporters of this mission. I have had the opportunity to hear some of these success stories first from deserving students and families in California. If you visit the Kids' Chance website you can read many of their success stories. Annual scholarship amounts range from $2,500 to $10,000 awarded to students. This is life changing. By recognizing Kids' Chance of California this will do even more to bring to the forefront their valuable mission in our state. This money is used in our state and in turn those educated stay in California and there is a good chance will give back after they receive their education or training."

Sean Hermanson, Esq
Seminar Presenter

Seminar Presenter Finalists: Honorable Myrle Petty Robert Rassp Sue Honor Honorable Jamie Spitzer Sean Hermanson and the winner is? Sean Hermanson, Esq Mr. Hermanson is a gifted and talented attorney and seminar presenter. Sean actually began his law career in New York City and served there in the capacity of City Attorney. Sean began his career in workers' compensation in 2001. Mr. Hermanson is a shareholder and the Chief Operating Officer of one of a very prestigious defense firm, Heggeness, Sweet, Simington, and Patrico. In terms of Sean's presentations for WorkCompCentral, he is one of our main "go to" people. He has done a terrific job this year presenting in the seminar called: Liens: Connecting the Dots in 2014. Aslo, Mr. Hermanson, along with Mr. Rassp and Judge Casey, presented an extremely popular and engaging seminar series called Litigation Skills Training. Due in no small part to Mr. Hermanson's participation, both seminars sold out and we had to actually to broadcast a live webinar from the location to accommodate all of the folks who wanted to could see it live. Finally, just to let you know, Sean is a perfectionist. He is a meticulous planner. And a meticulous dresser as well, as you can see. So just imagine our surprise when this happened. You see, the night before he does a seminar in LA, Sean stays overnight at a hotel instead of driving all the way up from San Diego. So at the last Litigation Skills Training seminar that he participated in, he realized when he arrived here in LA that he had packed his running shoes, and not his dress shoes! But no matter what he wears, he always has been and will continue to be a speaker and presenter of the highest quality.

Dr. Sean Leoni

Physician Finalists: Dr. Lynn Lowell Dr. Erik Woo Dr. Sean Leoni Dr. David Rogers and the winner is? Dr. Sean Leoni Dr. Sean Leoni is a Diplomate American Board of Internal Medicine and Certified Pain Management Specialist. Dr. Leoni believes that treating the injured worker as a whole requires the combination of science, compassion and empathy. Dr. Leoni's goal is to advocate for the struggle and humanizing the pain of the injured worker. As an internal medicine physician, Dr. Leoni applies scientific knowledge and clinical expertise to the diagnosis, treatment, and compassionate care of adults across the spectrum from health to complex illness. Internists are sometimes referred to as the "doctor's doctor," because they are often called upon to act as consultants to other physicians to help solve puzzling diagnostic problems. Here are some comments from some several of his nominators: "Dr. Leoni is a dedicated physician. Dedicated equally to excellence in his profession and excellence in patient care, he maintains a work schedule in his office and in multiple clinic locations from the hi-desert to the coast that would crush an average man. Yet, what is most amazing, is that he never misses anything....from the smallest detail, like my nickname or the milligrams of my last prescription....to the when and what of my latest test results." "Dr. Leoni understands people very well and in my opinion his people skills are off the charts and not just in my case. We patients do talk to each other in the waiting rooms and I have yet to hear 'one' criticism of Dr. Leoni since 2006." "My clients describe him as a physician who is an excellent listener. He takes time through his evaluation and answers all of their questions and concerns. My clients have also indicated that they can sense his care for their well being and have expressed their desire to continue to treat with him through out their lifetime if they had a choice."

Hon. David L. Pollack
Judicial Officer

Judicial Officer Finalists: John Gutierrez Thomas Harwayne Jeffrey Morgan David Pollak and the winner is? Hon. David L. Pollak David Pollak began his workers' compensation career in 2000 as an associate attorney at Finestone Schumaker & Associates, a Southern California workers' compensation firm representing injured workers. He subsequently worked beginning in 2004 as an associate attorney for the Law Offices of Adelson, Testan, Brundo, Novell & Jimenez, a national workers' compensation firm representing employers, insurance companies and third party administrators. Since 2009, he has been a Workers' Compensation Administrative Law Judge at the Van Nuys District Office of the WCAB. Judge Pollak is a member of the LexisNexis® California WCAB Noteworthy Panel Decisions Advisory Board and co-author of California Workers' Compensation Law & Practice, a leading authority in California workers' compensation law previously authored by the late Judge Sheldon St. Clair. Here are some comments from his nominators: "Apart from the fact that Judge Pollak executes the duties of a judge true to the judicial code of ethics, Judge Pollak provides the guidance and update by posting the significant case ruling and WCAB news. It takes a lot of effort to go beyond just a judge but to also help educate the workers' compensation professional that come before you. In addition, David tries to help out other judges with their calendar out of the goodness of his heart." "Attorneys who appear before me express that Judge Pollak is extremely knowledgeable, a great resource, and he makes himself available for speaking engagements for the benefit of our workers' compensation legal community. In addition, Judge Pollak maintains an extensive calendar for Uninsured Employers, and one cannot ignore how artfully articulate he is!"

Nicholas Santilli
Claims Administrator

Claims Administrator Finalists: Linda Ramirez, AIMS (Acclamation Insurance Management Services) Michelle Thomas, York Insurance Services Intercare Holdings Insurance Services Firouzeh Fouladi, Employers Workers? Compensation Insurance Edna A. Young, City of Sacramento The Hartford Nicholas Santilli, Sedgwick and the winner is? Nicholas Santilli Mr. Santilli is a claims professional for Sedgwick in the Pasadena office. Nicholas has demonstrated the professional proficiencies needed to consistently receive the highest scores for customer service at Sedgwick. What really sets Nick apart is the compassion and empathy he puts into each injured worker with whom he interacts on every case. One of the people who nominated Nick for a Comp Laude Award shared a particular case that sets Nick apart and represents how he approaches every claim he works. In fact, in a recent blog post, David DePaolo refers to this style of claims adjusting as "The Mom Standard." The claimant wrote Nick not one, but three, thank you notes. The most moving was a letter that the claimant wrote leading up to her 50th birthday and how she had decided to thank people in her life who had made a difference. Nick was the only person on her list that she had never met in person or didn?t know as a personal friend. She only knew Nick as the person who handled her claim.

Nicholas P. Roxborough
Defense Attorney

Defense Attorney Finalists: Medy Beauchane ? Defense Attorney at Mullen and Filippi Karl Moody ? Assistant City Attorney for Los Angeles City Attorney?s Office Christopher Hefley ? Defense Attorney at Grancell, Stander, Reubens, Thomas and Kinsey Nicholas Roxborough ? Defense Attorney at Roxborough, Pomerance, Nye, and Andreati and the winner is? Nicholas P. Roxborough Mr. Roxborough is the co-managing Partner of Los Angeles based Roxborough, Pomerance, Nye & Adreani, LLP, the first law firm in the country to specialize in representing employers nationwide in workers' compensation premium disputes. Mr. Roxborough has been practicing law since 1984. He has substantial litigation, trial and appellate experience. Since 1992, Mr. Roxborough has obtained eight published appellate opinions concerning employer's rights in the insurance arena. He and his partner obtained the largest punitive damages trial award on behalf of a California employer against its workers' compensation insurance carrier. Mr. Roxborough is a legal and professional "difference maker" for the business community, and Nick continues to pioneer, win and secure for a wide range of employers throughout the nation, their right to be treated fairly and equitably by their insurance carriers. He has dedicated his practice to representing employers in all aspects of insurance and employers' rights issues. Mr. Roxborough is regularly quoted as an expert in numerous employer and insurance trade journals, and has appeared on television to comment on insurance and privacy matters. His reputation truly precedes him. There are always gasps in the courtroom when people learn Nick is the opposing counsel. He is respectfully feared by others who, I would dare say, are on the losing side.

Alan Z. Gurvey
Applicant's Attorney

Applicant Attorney Finalists: Mona Nemat ? Law Offices of Brissman and Nemat Scott James Eadie ? Law Offices of Scott James Eadie Aaron Straussner ? Straussner, Sherman Robert Rassp ? Law Offices of Robert Rassp Alan Gurvey ? Rowen, Gurvey & Win and the winner is? Alan Z. Gurvey Mr. Gurvey is the managing partner of the Law Firm of Rowen, Gurvey & Win. He joined the firm in 1992. He is a graduate of Brown University with an honors degree in Ethics and Political Philosophy. Mr. Gurvey received his law degree in 1990 from the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada, his hometown. He also attended the renowned American Academy of Dramatic Arts, and was a finalist for the Rhodes Scholarship. As a respected litigator in workers' compensation, Mr. Gurvey has spoken at the California Applicant Attorney's Association convention on numerous occasions as well at the State Bar Workers' Compensation section conferences and the California Workers' Compensation Defense Attorneys Association. He has also been a featured speaker for the Ventura County Sheriff's Association, and other labor associations and unions. Mr. Gurvey is the host of Gurvey's Law on Talk Radio 790 KABC radio. With co-host Kerri Kasem, the show takes a closer look at law...and life. He is also an Honorary Board of Governors member for the Los Angeles Trial Lawyers Charities. Mr. Gurvey was formerly the Workers' Compensation expert on Ledger on the Law on KABC radio. He is on the Board of Directors of the California Applicant's Attorneys Association and is Education Chairperson of the California Applicants' Attorney Association annual winter convention. Mr. Gurvey is a certified specialist in workers' compensation by the California Board of Legal Specialization of the State Bar of California. Here are some comments from his nominators: Alan Gurvey is a leader in every sense of the word. His progressive thinking, boldness, drive, and passion has benefited the lives of those around him. Alan is an aggressive litigator that holds true to his good morals and ethical beliefs of integrity and honor. He is not only a great advocate for injured workers, but a great mentor, colleague, friend, father and most importantly, he is a good person. Congratulations Alan Gurvey!