Hutchinson v. Annville Twp. (Workers’ Comp. Appeal Bd.)

The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court revisited Protz v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Derry Area School District), 124 A.3d 406 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2015) (“Protz I“), aff’d, 161 A.3d 827 (Pa. 2017) (“Protz II“) for the first time since . . . last week. Here, the claimant began receiving workers’ compensation benefits due to a work-related accident that left him temporarily totally disabled in 2006. In 2009, the claimant underwent an impairment rating examination (“IRE”) that found a whole person disability rating of less than 50 percent based on the  Sixth Edition of the American Medical Association Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment (“Guides”). The employer then filed a petition to modify the benefits, and the workers’ compensation judge (“WCJ”) agreed. No party appealed that determination. Between Protz I and Protz II, the claimant filed a reinstatement petition seeking to go back to total disability. A WCJ granted that petition. While that order was pending appeal, the employer sought another IRE for the claimant according to Protz II and Act 111. This IRE resulted in an impairment rating of 3 percent, and the employer filed a new modification petition. That modification petition and the claimant’s earlier reinstatement petition were consolidated. The WCJ granted the reinstatement petition dating back to 2017 and the modification petition as of its filing in 2019. The Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (“WCAB”) affirmed. The Commonwealth Court affirmed. The Court held that reinstatement only dates back to the filing of the claimant’s petition because he did not appeal the 2009 order. The Court ruled that the employer was permitted to file the modification petition while the reinstatement petition was pending because the two petitions raised separate issues. The Court upheld the constitutionality of Act 111 because it does not delegate its legislative authority to the American Medical Association, and it is not an ex post facto law.

Hutchinson