Case Law Update | Gieniec v. WCAB (Pa. Cmwlth. December 22, 2015) | PA Work Injury

December 23, 2015

Claimant filed her initial claim petition as to the 2007 Injury in December 2010. She also filed two claim petitions (deemed review petitions) in December 2010 and early January 2011 as to her aggravations of the 2007 Injury. WCJ Kutz decided her initial claim and review petitions (Initial Claim) on January 30, 2012 (granted medical only). The Board affirmed WCJ Kutz's decision on May 16, 2014. A year later, on May 11, 2015, this Court affirmed the Board.

 

Claimant filed her reinstatement petition in July 2012, almost two years before the Board issued a decision on the Initial Claim. WCJ Rapkin granted Claimant's reinstatement petition on June 28, 2013, in which he noted her appeal of the Initial Claim was pending. Accordingly, he suspended payment of benefits based on Bechtel Power.  While the Initial Claim was pending before this Court (Gieniec I), on January 26, 2015, the Board dismissed the reinstatement petition because it was filed before the Board decided the Initial Claim.

 

In the reinstatement petition, ostensibly she seeks to reinstate the benefits as set forth in WCJ Kutz's January 30, 2012 decision. Simultaneously, in the appeal of her Initial Claim, she challenged the adequacy of the award because it did not include any ongoing disability benefits or wage loss. These positions are inconsistent. Further complicating the matter, in her reinstatement petition, Claimant presumes an award of indemnity benefits that she did not receive.  Claimant essentially sought to reinstate benefits she believes she should have received. Had the Board agreed with Claimant and determined WCJ Kutz erred in not awarding indemnity benefits, then at that time, her petition would have been appropriate. But the Board did not agree with her. As a result, after all appeals have been exhausted, Claimant is not entitled to indemnity benefits related to her 2007 Injury. As her reinstatement petition was premised on a successful appeal of the indemnity claim, which she did not achieve, dismissal was proper. At the time Claimant filed her reinstatement petition, there were claims on appeal involving identical issues that materially impacted reinstatement. As the circumstances warrant application of the Bechtel Power rule here, we affirm the Board's dismissal of Claimant's reinstatement petition.

Select an attorney

Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation

If you get hurt on the job, you’re entitled to compensation for your injuries. Our attorneys will help you file your claim successfully.
Learn More

Social Security Disability

If you have a medical condition and can not work, you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. Contact us today for a FREE consultation.
Learn More

My Case Status for Existing Clients

All current clients have access to My Case Status. This website allows them access to check the status and progression of their case, update their information, securely send and receive medical and case-related documents, contact their legal team, and watch helpful videos.

Click here to access My Case Status.

Learn More