Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Commonwealth Court Relies on Finding of Fact to Establish Collateral Estoppel

In Gillyard v. WCAB (PA LCB) a second termination petition was at issue. The WCJ accepted the Employer's medical evidence of full recovery and granted termination. The Board affirmed. The issue on appeal was whether the opinion of full recovery was competent.

Findings of fact in the prior termination petition were relied upon by the Commonwealth Court to establish the Claimant's diagnosis. With that diagnosis, The Court reversed the decision of the WCJ and Board. The Court stated the Employer's medical witness did not offer an opinion of full recovery from the diagnosis of the first case.

The dissent highlighted the WCJ's findings that reconciled the testimony of the Employer's witness with the diagnosis in the first case and established full recovery.

The holding is inconsistent with J. Almeida v. WCAB (Herman Goldner Company) in which the Court held findings of fact are not reviewable. If a finding of fact is not reviewable, due process is denied and the fact cannot be a basis for collateral estoppel. March 16, 2004 post.

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