Sunday, January 27, 2008

Injury Resulting from Horseplay Generally Compensable

In Sysco Food Services of Phila v. WCAB (Sebastiano) the Claimant was injured engaging in horseplay. While the question of whether the Claimant was an innocent victim remained unresolved in the mind of the Commonwealth Court, the Court noted the Claimant was in his regular work area and his actions, even if viewed in their worst light, were not so disconnected with his regular work duties for the Claimant to be considered, with respect to the employer, nothing more than a "stranger" or "trespasser."

The Court distinguished Johnson v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Union Camp Corp.), 749 A.2d 1048 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2000) in which the Claimant got in a fight after leaving his work area to talk with another employee about a non work-related matter. The Court also cited Judge Torrey’s treatise for the premise that violation of a work rule stating there is "no horseplay" will not make otherwise compensable horseplay injuries non-compensable.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Largest Workers’ Compensation Rate Reduction in a Decade

The Pennsylvania Compensation Rating Bureau (PCRB) has proposed a 10.22 percent average reduction in workers’ compensation policy rates for 2008, according to a Pittsburgh Business Times Article. The recommendation will go to the Pennsylvania Insurance Department for approval.

On January 19, 2007 the PCRB recommended a 2.95 percent average increase.

In 2006, the PCRB recommended an average 8.5 percent reduction, which was reported to be the biggest decrease sought since 1997.

In 2005, the PCRB recommended a 2.89 percent average reduction, which was predicted to save employers $32.5 million.

Labor Market Survey May Be Done In Area Of Claimant's Residence Even If Out Of State

In H. Riddle v. WCAB (Allegheny City Electric, Inc.), the Claimant was injured in Pittsburgh, but had a residence in Wheeling, West Virginia and lived with his father at a nearby address in Ohio, where the Claimant held a driver’s license.

The Claimant’s benefits were modified based on a labor market survey focusing on Wheeling. The Claimant argued since he resides out of state, the labor market survey must be done in the usual employment area where the injury occurred, i.e. Pittsburgh, according to 306(b)(2) of the Act.

The Commonwealth Court applied the rule of statutory construction that the legislature could not have intended an absurd result. Where the Employer accommodates the Claimant in conducting the labor market survey, the results are valid.