Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Commonwealth Court Affirms Dismissal of Petition To Set Aside Compromise and Release Agreement Alleging Lack of Mental Capacity

In M. Stiles v. WCAB (Dept. of Public Welfare) the Commonwealth Court affirmed a summary dismissal of a Petition to Set Aside a Compromise and Release Agreement. The Claimant alleged she was not mentally competent when the C&R was approved. The dismissal was summary because Claimant's Counsel moved for a continuance for medical testimony at the first hearing and deferred the Claimant's testimony. The Employer thereafter moved for dismissal on the basis of collateral estoppel, and the WCJ granted the motion.

The Court distinguished the case from North Penn Sanitation Inc. v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board (Dillard), ___ A.2d ___, (Pa. Cmwlth. No. 2115 C.D. 2003, filed, May 10, 2004) on the basis that Dillard's blindness was unknown to the WCJ. The Court stated the Claimant's mental competency was an issue before the WCJ, who made a finding the Claimant understood the Agreement.

Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation Practice and Procedure Reference 26.3 et. seq.

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