Frank Brass recently retired from the WCAB after over a decade and a half as a WCAB Commissioner.
The retirement, which occurred at the end of January 2018, has not been widely publicized.
Workerscompzone wishes him all the best in his well-deserved retirement.
Brass was appointed to the WCAB in 2001 and was reappointed in 2008 by Governor Schwarzenegger. Then in 2014 he was reappointed by Governor Brown.
Brass started his career with several San Francisco-based labor law firms, Neyhart, Grodin and Beeson and the Law Offices of Charles P. Scully.
I met him years ago when he was doing defense work at several defense shops, as a partner with Wayne Luttringer and then with John Parente and Ken Christopher. As an attorney Frank was direct, honest and practical. Although he represented employer interests, Brass always appeared to be interested in the welfare of the worker who was the subject of the litigation.
Brass has had a friendship with California Democratic political powerhouse John Burton that goes back to youthful days in the City. As a result, he secured an appointment to the WCAB and began a long career there.
From 2001 to 2018 he was involved in interpreting many of the changes in the law that were enacted under the massive Schwarzenegger and Brown reforms.
One of his colleagues described him thusly in an e-mail to me: “A true gent, smart and a keen sense of humor. And kind, very kind.”
Brass and I share a handful of good friends and he is a beloved figure for many.
If one were handicapping the opinions of the Commissioners during his time there, Brass was perhaps not the most “liberal” or “conservative” member of the WCAB. Others might disagree (and this is an unscientifically tested statement), but I saw him as a sort of centrist Anthony Kennedy type figure who would look at cases on the merits without any particular ideological slant and at times cast a swing vote where there was a divided panel.
With his departure there are now three open slots on the WCAB out of the seven which are authorized by law.
Two slots have been open for a long time, and it has never been clear exactly why the Governor has not moved to fill the positions. With so many open slots, the WCAB has relied to some extent on Deputy Commissioners to fill the panels.
With Brass departing the WCAB has four remaining Commissioners: Chairperson Zalewski and Commissioners Sweeney, Razo and Lowe.