Worker’s Compensation • State Funds • Compromise and Settlement Agreement • Average Weekly Wage Appeal
H.A. Harper Sons, Inc. v. Workers’ Comp. Appeal Bd., PICS Case No. 14-0006 (Pa. Commw. Jan. 3, 2014) Brobson, J. (16 pages).
The parties’ compromise and release agreement did not settle the exact issue raised by claimant’s employer in its average weekly wage appeal; thus, the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board erred in reversing an order granting Employer’s application for reimbursement from the Workers’ Compensation Supersedeas Fund. Reversed.
Claimant filed a petition seeking workers’ compensation benefits from his employer. A workers’ compensation Judge granted the petition and determined that claimant had an average weekly wage (AWW) of $542.50 and a corresponding compensation rate of $389.50 per week.
Employer filed an appeal, challenging the calculation of claimant’s AWW. In connection with its appeal, employer also filed an application for supersedeas, which the board denied.
While the appeal of the determination of claimant’s AWW was still pending, employer filed a termination petition, alleging that claimant had fully recovered from his work-injuries as of November 2008.
The parties settled the case through an agreement for compromise and release whereby employer agreed to pay claimant $50,000. Employer’s termination petition was amended to become a petition to seek approval of a compromise and release. The court approved the agreement.
Thereafter, the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board granted employer’s appeal of the claim petition as it related to the calculation of claimant’s AWW. The board modified the order to reflect a reduced AWW of $226.98 and a corresponding compensation rate of $204.28 per week.
As a result of the board’s modification of the petition award, employer filed an application seeking reimbursement from the Workers’ Compensation Supersedeas Fund for overpayment of compensation as a result of the incorrect calculation of claimant’s AWW.
The court concluded that employer was entitled to reimbursement from the Fund for the full amount of $20,241.90 and, therefore, granted the application. On appeal, the board concluded that the judge had erred in granting employer relief and, therefore, reversed.
On appeal, the court noted that the subject agreement provided that the parties agreed “to settle and resolve claimant’s entitlement to past, present and future indemnity, medical, and specific loss benefits related to the work injury of April 7, 2007″ in exchange for a lump sum payment of $50,000.
The agreement did not settle the employer’s challenge to the order that set claimant’s AWW at $542.50 with a corresponding compensation rate of $389.50, the court observed. The agreement arose out of a termination petition filed by employer, which was a proceeding to cut off future benefits.
Moreover, the language of the agreement indicated the parties’ intent that the agreement was executed to amicably resolve only employer’s termination petition as to future benefits. The issue of whether employer overpaid past indemnity benefits due to an erroneously calculated AWW was not settled.