Advertising Disclosure Email Disclosure

An employer's eleventh hour refusal to proceed with a compromise and release agreement does not violate the Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation Act.

January 1, 2011
Patrick McKenna v. WCAB (SSM Industries, Inc.); No. 454 C.D. 2010: filed August 18, 2010; by Senior Judge Friedman

The claimant was injured while working for an employer that was under sub-contract with a general contractor, and the claimant was paid benefits. Later, the case was mediated, and an agreement was reached to settle the claim. At the mediation conference, the claimant agreed to resign from his position with the employer. Counsel for the employer, after executing a Compromise & Release Agreement (C&R) on behalf of the employer, spoke with a representative of the general contractor, who directed counsel not to proceed with the C&R unless the claimant agreed not to seek re-employment with the general contractor. Counsel informed the workers' compensation judge of this and indicated that, if the claimant did not agree to these terms, the employer would proceed with a modification petition that was previously filed. The Claimant did not agree and responded by filing a penalty petition. The workers' compensation judge granted the penalty petition, imposed a 50 percent penalty on the employer for unreasonably delaying the C&R hearing, and awarded counsel fees for an unreasonable contest of the penalty petition. On appeal, the Appeal Board reversed, and the Commonwealth Court affirmed the Appeal Board. The court held that the C&R Agreement, although executed, was not a final, conclusive and binding agreement under section 449 of the Act and that the employer did not violate section 449 by attempting to modify the agreement. The court also noted that section 449 does not prohibit an employer or insurer from withdrawing a Petition for Approval.

Case Law Alert, 1st Qtr 2011

Affiliated Attorney

Francis X. Wickersham
(610) 354-8263
G. Jay Habas
Managing Attorney, Erie, PA Office
(814) 480-7802

Practice Areas

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."