In the matter of Bureau of Workers’ Compensation v. WCAB (U.S. Food Services), the issue before the Commonwealth Court was whether, after the parties entered into a Compromise and Release Agreement resolving all past, present and future liability, a later Decision on a pending Termination Petition was rendered invalid, thereby prohibiting supersedeas fund reimbursement for the employer on the Termination Petition.
Here, the claimant was injured on August 30, 2001, and those injuries were acknowledged as compensable. The employer later filed a Termination Petition alleging full recovery. The Judge denied the supersedeas request that was filed in conjunction with that Termination Petition. While the Termination Petition was pending, the parties settled the case and entered into a Compromise and Release Agreement which resolved the employer’s liability to the claimant. However, the parties left open the previously filed Termination Petition, and that Petition was ultimately granted by the Workers’ Compensation Judge. The employer then filed an application for supersedeas fund reimbursement. The Bureau contested the employer’s request for reimbursement, which was ultimately granted by a Workers’ Compensation Judge. The Board affirmed the Judge’s decision. However, the Commonwealth Court reversed, finding that the Compromise and Release Agreement, and not the Termination Petition, served as the final resolution of this claim. The critical error made by the employer was its failure to include specific language in the Compromise and Release Agreement providing for the Termination Petition to remain open. The Compromise and Release Agreement merely indicated that it “fully and completely” satisfied the employer’s liability.
What It Means to You
If an employer intends to preserve its potential right to supersedeas fund reimbursement or any other potential issues, those issues must be specifically outlined in the Compromise and Release Agreement. If the C&R Agreement in this situation contains impermissively broad language, this could possibly render any future request for relief by the employer invalid. Cipriani & Werner attorneys have been successful in maximizing our client’s potential rights to supersedeas fund reimbursement by incorporating language that does not impact the litigation of any pending petitions. This is a significant financial consideration for employers and must be fully understood to properly represent and protect an employer’s rights and interests. Please feel free to call our office to discuss your particular claims issue with a C&W workers' compensation attorney.