Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lehigh County in case of C & E Trucking Corporation v. Ernest Luisser, No. 2 January Term 1972.
David J. Griffith, with him Harvey, Pennington, Herting and Renneisen, Ltd., for appellants.
Harry P. Creveling, for appellee.
Judges Crumlish, Jr., Wilkinson, Jr., and Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Blatt.
This case involves the sole question of whether or not interest should be allowed on workmen's compensation
benefits being paid pursuant to an agreement between an employer and an employe, rather than pursuant to formal order of the Workmen's Compensation Board (Board).
Ernest Luisser (claimant) was injured in the course of his employment on July 22, 1960, when a piece of steel flew into his right eye. The claimant and the C & E Trucking Corporation (employer) thereafter entered into an agreement, and later into a supplemental agreement, with the claimant eventually executing final receipts. Subsequently, however, the claimant's eye condition worsened, and he began further proceedings before the Board. Eventually, on October 21, 1968, the parties entered into another supplemental compensation agreement providing for benefits for the loss of the use of the claimant's right eye commencing January 22, 1962. Based on this last agreement, the Board dismissed the claimant's petition then before it. The employer, however, refused to pay any interest on the back benefits, and the claimant then filed a Petition for Modification. Following a hearing on this Petition a referee awarded interest to the claimant, and this award was later affirmed by the Board. On appeal, the Board's order was upheld by the Court of Common Pleas of Lehigh County.
Section 410 of the Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act, Act of June 2, 1915, P.L. 736, as amended, 77 P.S. § 751, read in pertinent part at the time this action was begun:*fn1 "Whenever any claim for compensation is presented to the board and is finally adjudicated in favor of the claimant, the amounts of compensation actually due at the time the first payment is made after such adjudication shall bear interest at the rate of six per centum per annum from the day such
claim is presented, and such interest shall be payable to the same persons as the compensation is payable." (Emphasis added.)
The employer argues that the use of the word "adjudicated" means that interest may be required only when the Board itself awards benefits, not when a compensation agreement has been reached between the parties. We do not agree. As the lower court stated: "To adopt the employer's argument that interest should not be paid here would, in effect, penalize an employe who reaches an agreement amicably with his employer and at the same time yield an unexpected premium to the employer under such circumstances. We see no justification for so ruling." The term "adjudicated," in this context, must refer to a final determination of a ...