Case Law Update | Jackson v. WCAB (Pa. Cmwlth. October 19, 2016) | PA Work Injury

October 19, 2016

In Jackson v. Workers Compensation Appeal WCAB (Radnor School District and ACTS Retirement Community), the court affirmed WCAB’s order, reversing WCJ and holding the petition of Radnor School District to join ACTS Retirement Life Community as an additional defendant untimely filed. Link: Jackson v. WCAB (October 19, 2016).

 

Facts: On September 4, 2002, Claimant injured his knee working as a security guard for Radnor. Radnor issued an NCP acknowledging Claimant’s left knee injury (torn cartilage). At the time of the work-injury, Claimant was concurrently employed as a security guard with ACTS, but his additional earnings were not reflected in the NCP. On September 7, 2004, the parties entered into a supplemental agreement documenting Claimant’s concurrent employment, the recalculation of his average weekly wage, periods of total and partial disability, and his return to work at ACTS on July 21, 2003. On April 1, 2013, Claimant filed a reinstatement petition against Radnor, alleging a worsening of his condition as of that date. Radnor filed an answer denying Claimant’s allegations and noting he would soon receive the maximum 500 weeks of partial disability benefits allowed under Section 306(b). On October 22, 2013, Radnor filed a petition for joinder against ACTS, alleging Dr. Murphy related Claimant’s current disability to his concurrent employment with ACTS. ACTS filed an answer denying Radnor’s allegations and objecting to the joinder petition as untimely filed. Claimant joined in ACTS’ objection.  

 

WCJ’s Decision: Granted Radnor’s petition for joinder, treated Claimant’s reinstatement petition as a claim petition against ACTS, granted that petition, and ordered ACTS to pay Claimant total disability benefits, including payments for reasonable and necessary medical treatment, effective March 31, 2013. The WCJ, in finding the joinder petition was timely filed, observed that “the evidence on which the petition for joinder was based was known to the parties at Dr. Murphy’s October 2, 2013 deposition.”  

 

Conclusion/Reasoning: The court in affirming WCAB’s reversal of WCJ, explained that Claimant testified on May 6, 2013, and, as summarized by the WCJ, credibly established that “he had increased pain over the years from performing his job duties at ACTS.” The court noted that it was not clear whether WCJ understood the 20-day period begins to run from “the first hearing at which evidence is received regarding the reason for which joinder is sought.” 34 Pa. Code §131.36. Claimant did not challenge WCJ’s findings on appeal, and those findings reflect that evidence regarding the reason for joinder was received at the May 6, 2013 hearing. Thus, the court determined WCAB properly held the joinder petition was untimely filed.  

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