Friday, July 16, 2004

C&R "Claimant Has Sustained No Other Injuries" Clause Held Not Effective

In J. Wallace v. WCAB (Bethlehem Steel, et al.) the Claimant C&R'd a 1996-97 inhalation injury on March 1, 2001.  The C&R provided that the Claimant was not presently working due to back problems.  In this context, the Claimant agreed:
Claimants allegation of injury is that he inhaled trichloroethylene and perchloroethylene in an unventilated area while cleaning metal plates. Claimant also alleges that he inhaled Chlorosolv in October 1996 and on March 24, 1997. By agreeing to this Compromise and Release Agreement, Claimant specifically represents that he has sustained no other occupational injuries or diseases arising out of or causally related to his employment with Bethlehem Steel; and that he has not given statutory notice of any other injuries or diseases.

In the Claimant's later Claim Petition alleging an August 3, 1998 back injury, the Claimant (who was represented by other counsel) testified his counsel on the C&R told him it wouldn't affect his back injury claim.  Also, the Claimant was not questioned about the back injury at the C&R hearing.   Under these circumstances, the Commonwealth Court felt it was appropriate for the WCJ to conclude the Claimant had not agreed to waive his back claim.

Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation Practice and Procedure Reference 26.19

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