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DENNIS v. E. J. LAVINO & COMPANY. (06/12/64)

June 12, 1964

DENNIS, APPELLANT,
v.
E. J. LAVINO & COMPANY.



Appeal, No. 8, Oct. T., 1964, from order of Court of Common Pleas of Lebanon County, March T., 1963, No. 507, in case of March E. Dennis v. E. J. Lavino & Company et al. Order affirmed.

COUNSEL

Donn I. Cohen, with him Cohen, Senft & Rubin, for appellant.

Thomas A. Ehrgood, with him Ehrgood & Ehrgood, for appellee.

Before Rhodes, P.j., Ervin, Wright, Woodside, Watkins, Montgomery, and Flood, JJ.

Author: Woodside

[ 203 Pa. Super. Page 358]

OPINION BY WOODSIDE, J.

This is an appeal from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lebanon County reversing an order of the Workmen's Compensation Board which allowed compensation on a petition for reinstatement of compensation filed by the claimant after the two years limitation had run.

The claimant suffered a compensable injury to his leg on January 9, 1959, as a result of which a compensation agreement was entered into on February 25, 1959. Benefits were paid until the final receipt was signed by the claimant on March 23, 1959. On August 14, 1961, more than two years and four months after

[ 203 Pa. Super. Page 359]

    the execution of the final receipt, the claimant filed a petition for reinstatement.

Section 434 of the Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act, as amended, 77 P.S. ยง 1001, provides: "A final receipt ... shall be prima facie evidence of the termination of the employer's liability to pay compensation under such agreement or award: Provided, however, That the board or a referee ... may, at any time within two years from the date to which payments have been made, set aside a final receipt, upon petition filed with the board, if it be conclusively proved that all disability due to the accident in fact had not terminated."

The legislature made the filing of the petition within the specified time an express condition of the right to obtain an additional award of compensation, and intended that the failure to file it within the specified time should operate as an absolute bar of the right. The courts may not extend the period ex gratia in aid of a meritorious claim or to relieve against the hardship of particular circumstances. However, the courts can permit a claim to be filed after the time prescribed in the statute if fraud or its equivalent is shown, which in this connection includes an unintentional deception. The evidence to support such a claim must be clear and precise, more than of doubtful weight. Thorn v. Strawbridge & Clothier, 191 Pa. Superior Ct. 59, 61, 62, 155 A.2d 414 (1959).

A final receipt in a workmen's compensation case "is prima facie evidence of the termination of the employer's liability to pay compensation and must control unless there be of record conclusive proof that the receipt was procured by fraud, coercion or other improper conduct on the part of the employer or was founded on a mutual mistake of ...


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