Posted by Marty on June 20, 1999 at 10:32:32:
This is another example of a work comp judge ignoring laws in regards to penaltys, etc. He was overruled eventually
Penalties: Late Payment of Workers' Compensation
CROMAN V. W.C.A.B. (TP. OF MARPLE)
706 A.2d 408 (Pa.Cmwlth. 1998)
The Pennsylvania Court dealt with the claimant, Croman, who was employed by the Township of Marple as a custodian and sustained an injury to his lower back on November 16, 1989 when he moved a 50-pound bag of dry ice. On January 5, 1990, the employer issued a Notice of Compensation Denial, but, on February 19, 1990, issued a Notice of Compensation Payable, accepting liability for Croman's lower back injury. The employer commenced compensation payments at that time.
The workers' compensation judge found a late payment but under his discretion denied penalties.
The court reversed the denial of benefits finding that the workers' compensation judge's discretion was not unfettered and that penalties were due.
The court stated:
Here, the Board noted the approximate three-month delay between Croman's report of injury and the commencement of compensation, yet, citing the WCJ's discretion, declined to inquire into the decision not to impose penalties. While it may be a correct statement of the law to say that imposition of penalties is within the discretion of a WCJ, that discretion cannot be unfettered. Here, the Board, and we, are faced with only the conclusory statement of the WCJ that "[Croman] has not presented sufficient evidence to support his position of violation of the [Act] by the Defendant for failure to make timely compensation payments." (Finding of Fact No. 29, WCJ's decision, July 1, 1994). Given the WCJ's finding that Croman sustained an injury on November 16, 1989, his finding that the employer did not issue a notice of compensation denial until January 5, 1990, as well as his finding that the employer did not commence payments until the following February (albeit after having issued a notice of compensation denial in the interim), we conclude that the WCJ abused his discretion in refusing to assess penalties or otherwise say why penalties were unwarranted.
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