Santa Rosa workers’ comp judge Katie Ferchland Boriolo wins North Bay Forty Under 40 award
Responsibilities with your company: As a Workers’ Compensation judge, I preside over a daily court calendar consisting of Status Conferences, Mandatory Settlement Conferences, and Trials.
There are no juries in workers’ compensation law, so I conduct proceedings in my own trial court. At trial, I rule on evidentiary and testimonial objections. Then I research the evidence, the applicable Labor Code Sections, and the relevant case law to render a Findings and Award, and an Opinion on Decision.
The issues for trial range from whether the employee was actually in the course of their employment when they sustained an injury to the level of permanent disability they sustained.
In just about three years, I have tried over 85 cases. The injured workers that have appeared in my courtroom have included police officers, victims of mass shootings and armed robberies, prison inmates, fire victims, and employees who have been permanently rendered unable to work due to their industrial injury.
Also, I am sent petitions drafted by a party regarding various discovery disputes for my ruling. Additionally, the parties will submit tentative settlements to review for adequacy. Once I approve a settlement, the workers’ compensation insurance company has 30 days to release their payment to the injured workers.
Often, the injured worker is anxiously awaiting their settlement proceeds, so a judge must act very quickly in reviewing the proposed settlements. If an injured worker is not represented by an attorney, as a judge, I have to ensure the applicant (injured worker) was sent all their requisite notices that apprise them of their legal rights during the pendency of the case.
I am one of three workers compensation judges in Santa Rosa and am the only woman. Occasionally, I am the acting presiding judge and, in effect, am in charge of the entire workers compensation appeals board.
In 25 words or less, how do you exemplify the spirit of being a top Forty under 40 professional?
To be a judge for almost three years, at 37, is extremely unique and a testament to the leadership that perfectly personifies forty under 40.
Years with company: 3
Length of time in current position: 3
Number of companywide employees: 209,000
Number who report to you: 7
Greatest professional accomplishment: Aside from becoming a workers’ compensation certified specialist, my greatest professional accomplishment is becoming one of the youngest workers’ compensation judges in California, at the age of 35. Also, I am only the third woman workers compensation judge in the history of the Santa Rosa workers compensation appeals board since it opened in the 1960’s.
Greatest professional challenge: The greatest professional challenge I face is the gravity of the outcome of my decisions. My decisions have very real life consequences to the injured workers that appear before me. None of my rulings or decisions can be entered into lightly because they can have drastic effects on peoples’ lives.
Best advice received: When I first started as a judge, I had a case that was a very close call. Given the evidence, my decision could have gone either way. I reached out to a very seasoned judge for advice. She told me, “Our job is to make a decision but that’s why it’s so challenging. So make a decision that you can back up with evidence and be confident with your gut instinct.”