Advertising Disclosure Email Disclosure

Special Workers' Compensation Alert - Impairment Rating Provisions of the PA Worker's Comp Act Unconstitutional

What's Hot in Worker's Comp
June 21, 2017

By Francis X. Wickersham

On June 20, 2017, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued its highly anticipated decision in Protz v. WCAB (Derry Area School District), No. 6 WAP 2016; No. 7 WAP 2016; Decided June 20, 2017; By Justice Wecht.

Not only did the court affirm the Commonwealth Court’s holding as unconstitutional the Act’s mandate requiring physicians to use the most recent edition of the AMA Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment in performing IREs, the court also found all of Section 306 (a.2) to lack any constitutional validity and struck it from the Act in its entirety. The court also concluded that the Commonwealth Court’s interpretation of Section 306 (a.2) as allowing for IREs to be performed using the 4th Edition of the AMA Guides was wrong and contrary to the General Assembly’s intent. According to the court, it was obvious that the General Assembly’s use of the words “the most recent edition” meant the IRE physician was to use the edition of the Guides that was most recent at the time of the examination, not the edition (4th) in place at the time Section 306(a.2) was passed.

Ultimately, the Supreme Court found that Section 306(a.2) violated the non-delegation doctrine of the Constitution because it gave the AMA “unfettered discretion” over Pennsylvania’s impairment rating methodology. It described the authority delegated to the AMA in Section 306(a.2) as “broad and unbridled.” It found that the General Assembly failed to provide any parameters for the AMA’s authority, giving it unrestricted control over the impairment rating process. Additionally, the court emphasized that the legislature did not include any procedural mechanisms in Section 306 (a.2), considered essential to protect against “administrative arbitrariness and caprice.” In short, the court determined that the General Assembly unconstitutionally delegated lawmaking authority to the AMA.

This Special Alert has been prepared by Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin to provide information on recent legal developments of interest to our readers. It is not intended to provide legal advice for a specific situation or to create an attorney-client relationship. We would be pleased to provide such legal assistance as you require on these and other subjects.

ATTORNEY ADVERTISING pursuant to New York RPC 7.1 © 2017 Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin. All rights reserved.

Affiliated Attorney

Francis X. Wickersham
Shareholder
(610) 354-8263
fxwickersham@mdwcg.com

Offices

Practice Areas

Download PDF

Before you send this email please note:

You are attempting to send email, through a link on our website, to an attorney of Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin or an employee in our firm. Please note that your email may not be treated as confidential and does not create an attorney-client relationship. You should not rely upon the transmission of an email through this website if you are seeking to enter into such a relationship. Until such time as we have agreed to represent you, no information in your email will be treated as confidential. Please contact us directly by telephone at 1.800.220.3308 if it is your intent to seek legal counsel with our firm or convey confidential information.

If it is still your intent to send this email, knowing that it may not be treated as confidential, you may accept our terms of agreement by pressing "OK". If you choose not to accept these terms of agreement you may navigate away from this page by pressing "Cancel."