Section 5814 Penalty
In County of Sacramento v. Workers' Comp. Appeals Bd. (Souza) (1999) 69 Cal. App. 4th 726, the appellate court applied the fair balance test and found the WCAB erred in assessing a section 5814 penalty for an eight-day delay in paying death benefits resulting from a clerical error.
The Souza court reasoned: "Determination of whether a given delay is unreasonable does not depend solely on the number of days payment was delayed but on the totality of the circumstances presented. (Kampner v. Workers' Comp. Appeals Bd. (1978) 86 Cal. App. 3d 376, 382, 383, 150 Cal. Rptr. 222 . . . .)
The reason for the employer's action or inaction plays an important role. As stated in Gallamore v. Workers' Comp. Appeals Bd. (1979) 23 Cal. 3d 815, 822-823, 153 Cal. Rptr. 590, 591 P.2d 1242 . . .:"'A broad requirement of additional award upon every delay in payment of interest could work mischief and inequity. There may be an entirely reasonable excuse for delay. Normal or unavoidable delays in delivery of payment could allow time for accrual of minor sums of interest which would be but de minimis. Such problems, however, may be met by the board in determining reasonableness of the delay. . . .'"