Friday, January 02, 2004

Supreme Court Reverses Commonwealth Court in Caso

On December 23, Section 306(b) was amended to provide a vocational expert that meets qualifications established by the Department by regulation can conduct a vocational interview. On December 30, the Supreme Court in Caso v. WCAB (School District of Philadelphia) held that is what Section 306(b) meant all along. The Court held the Department's interpretation of the statute was entitled to great deference, and should not have been overturned unless such interpretation was clearly erroneous. Here, the interpretation that "approved" in Section 306(b) means "competent" was held by the Court to be reasonable.

The Court then reviewed the resulting application of the statute: an expert that meets the qualifications set forth in the regulations is deemed "approved" and the claimant may be compelled to attend a vocational examination with the expert. On a subsequent petition the WCJ determines competency of the vocational expert and may do so in light of the Bureau's (Department's) regulations. Finally, the Court noted defendant employers and insurers are subject to the imposition of penalties for bad faith selection of an unqualified interviewer.

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