§ 28-35-20. Informal pretrial conference.
(a) Before any case shall proceed to a trial, the judge shall conduct a mandatory pretrial conference within twenty-one (21) days of the date of filing with a view to expediting the case and reducing the issues in dispute to a minimum, notice of which shall be sent by the administrator to the parties or to their attorneys of record. The conference shall be informal and no oral testimony shall be offered or taken. Any statement then made by either party shall in the absence of agreement be without prejudice, but any agreement then made shall be binding.
(b) Within a reasonable time of receipt, all medical reports and documentary evidence which the parties possess and which the parties intend to present as evidence at the pretrial conference shall be provided to the opposing party.
(c) At the pretrial conference, the judge shall make every effort to resolve any controversies or to plan for any subsequent trial of the case. The judge shall render a pretrial order immediately at the close of the pretrial conference. The pretrial order shall be set forth in a simplified manner on forms prescribed by the workers' compensation court. It may reflect any agreements reached between the parties, but shall grant or deny, in whole or in part, the relief sought by the petitioner. Subject to the provisions of subsection 45-21.2-9(j), the pretrial order shall be effective upon entry. Any payments ordered by it including, but not limited to, weekly benefits, medical expenses, costs, and attorneys' fees, shall be paid within fourteen (14) days of the entry of the order.
(d) Any party aggrieved by the entry of the order by the judge may claim a trial on any issue that was not resolved by agreement at the pretrial conference by filing with the workers' compensation court within five (5) days of the date of the entry of the order, exclusive of Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, a claim for a trial on forms prescribed by the workers' compensation court. If no timely claim for a trial is filed or is filed and withdrawn, the pretrial order shall become, by operation of law and without further action by any party, a final decree of the workers' compensation court.
(e) All trials shall be assigned for hearing and decision to the same judge who presided over the pretrial of the matter. Notice of the trial shall be sent by the workers' compensation court to the parties and to their attorneys of record. All trials shall be de novo, except that issues resolved by agreement at the pretrial conference may not be reopened. Any other case or dispute under chapters 29 38 of this title that arises during the pendency of this trial, shall be forwarded immediately to the same judge for pretrial in accordance with this section and for any subsequent trial.
(f) If after trial and the entry of a final decree, it is determined that the employee or medical services provider was not entitled to the relief sought in the petition, the employer or insurer shall be reimbursed from the workers' compensation administrative fund, described in chapter 37 of this title, to the extent of any payments made pursuant to the pretrial order to which there is no entitlement.
(G.L. 1938, ch. 300, art. 3, § 3; P.L. 1954, ch. 3297, § 1; G.L. 1956, § 28-35-20; P.L. 1982, ch. 32, art. 1, § 10; P.L. 1984, ch. 142, art. 4, § 4; P.L. 1984 (s.s.), ch. 450, § 3; P.L. 1985, ch. 365, § 8; P.L. 1986, ch. 1, § 7; P.L. 1990, ch. 332, art. 1, § 5; P.L. 1991, ch. 206, § 5; P.L. 1992, ch. 31, § 13; P.L. 1993, ch. 474, § 2; P.L. 2013, ch. 445, § 4; P.L. 2013, ch. 475, § 4; P.L. 2014, ch. 78, § 6; P.L. 2014, ch. 87, § 6.)