Monday, July 14, 2008

Court Holds Workers Compensation Employer May Enter Judgment In Common Pleas Court

Below is a link to the Superior Court decision from July 8, 2008 where the court holds 2-1 in United Parcel Service v. Hohider (Klein dissenting) that an employer is allowed to enter a judgment in the court of common pleas based upon a Workers Compensation Judge's order that a certain amount of a workers compensation lien had not been paid back.

The trial court struck the request to enter the judgment because it held that Section 428 of the Pennsylvania Workers Compensation act only provides the right to enter an automatic judgment to the employee and not the employer.

The Superior Court decision by Judge Bender recognizes that Section 428 only provides the right to enter a judgment to the employee but also notes that there is an absolute right under section 319 of the Act for the employer to be reimbursed. Thus, it finds that disallowing an employer to enter a judgment in the common pleas court would render the workers compensation judge order a nullity so it allows the judgment.

Judge Klein dissents and indicates that there may be valid reasons to challenge the order that should be litigated and since the legislature has not given the employer the right then the court should not allow it.

This decision basically turns Section 428 on its head. Another case where an appellate judge reads something in a statute that is not there merely to support the ultimate decision that is desired. Hopefully the Supreme Court will take care of this one.

See the full decision here.

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