Ripp v. Hudson Cty.

The New Jersey Appellate Division ruled that the judge of workers’ compensation (JWC) erred “in her expansive application of N.J.S.A. 34:15-28.2,” and, additionally, she abused her discretion in “imposing a manifestly excessive assessment.” Ripp filed a petition with the Division of Workers’ Compensation, seeking benefits under the Workers’ Compensation Act. Ripp received temporary disability benefits and medical benefits before both his medical expert and the County’s medical expert declared Ripp was permanently disabled in 2016. In 2021, the JWC entered an Order for Total Disability (Order) approving a settlement in the amount of $365,100. The County was to pay Ripp $173,480 within sixty days of the entry of the Order. Ripp filed a motion to enforce the Order because the County had not made the required payments. Finding the County’s delay was unreasonable, the JWC concluded it was appropriate to impose the maximum additional assessment of 25% to enforce the Order. The County appealed. The Appellate Division reversed because “the JWC relied on an impermissible basis in fashioning the penalty, specifically, delays in the litigation that predate entry of the Order. In addition, the judge awarded the maximum penalty under the statute, even though the delay in payment was only sixteen days and she recognized certain extenuating circumstances that reasonably delayed payment. Additionally, the judge did not find any bad faith on the County’s part.”

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