Thursday, January 15, 2004

Commonwealth Court Further Defines Supersedeas Reimbursement After C&R

In Coyne Textile v. WCAB (Voorhis) the WCJ dismissed the Employer's Termination Petition after a C&R holding the C&R resolved all the issues in the case. The Employer wanted a decision on the Termination Petition to get supersedeas reimbursement.

The Commonwealth Court noted the following language in the C&R:

Upon approval of the Compromise and Release Agreement by [the WCJ], the [C]laimant will receive a total of $17,500 to fully and finally settle any entitlement for indemnity and medical benefits from August 16, 2000 into the future.
Specifically, the parties acknowledge that this Compromise and Release Agreement does not adjudicate the issues raised by [Claimant's Challenge Petition], filed in response to the [Suspension Petition] filed by the [E]mployer on June 23, 1999. Those issues will be decided by the [WCJ] based on the evidence of record already submitted by the parties.
(Emphasis in the decision of the Court)

With this language in the C&R Agreement, the Commonwealth Court held it was appropriate for a decision to be issued on the Employer's Petition for Termination. The Court remanded to the WCJ to render a decision.

When the WCJ receives the remand, the WCJ can either do a full opinion and order or follow the procedure set forth in Optimax, Inc. v, WCAB (Yacono). In Optimax, the parties entered into a stipulation that a Termination Petition should be granted. The WCJ entered a decision and order on the stipulation. The Employer proceeded to file a Petition for Supersedeas Reimbursement, and this petition was assigned to a WCJ. The WCJ who decided the Petition for Supersedeas Reimbursement dismissed the Petition because the termination was entered on a stipulation. The Commonwealth Court reversed and remanded to the WCJ that received assignment of the Petition for Supersedeas Reimbursement, with the direction that this WCJ review the record and determine whether the record supported the facts stipulated to, e.g. the facts supporting termination. The Court stated supersedeas reimbursement could be had if the record supported termination.

Therefore, the procedure according to these two cases is to provide in the C&R that the lump sum is in consideration of future benefits, and that the Employer's Petition will be decided on the record. There has to be a record, e.g. a supporting deposition or withdrawal of Claimant's objection to Employer's medical report under Section 422(c). To dispose of the Employer's Petition, the parties enter into a stipulation that the petition should be granted. The WCJ issues a decision on that stipulation. The Employer files a Petition For Supersedeas Reimbursement. The WCJ who receives assignment of the Petition For Supersedeas Reimbursement reviews the record and determines whether the record supports the stipulation. If so, supersedeas reimbursement may be granted.

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