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KEYSTONE TRUCKING CORPORATION AND LIBERTY MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (02/06/79)

decided: February 6, 1979.

KEYSTONE TRUCKING CORPORATION AND LIBERTY MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY, PETITIONERS
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD, EDWARD WILSON AND COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND INDUSTRY, RESPONDENTS



Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of Edward Wilson v. Keystone Trucking Corporation, Docket Misc. 3785.

COUNSEL

John A. Fitzpatrick, with him Joseph R. Thompson, for petitioners.

Sandra S. Christianson, Assistant Attorney General, for respondents.

Judges Rogers, DiSalle and Craig, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Rogers.

Author: Rogers

[ 40 Pa. Commw. Page 328]

The Department of Labor and Industry, by a Deputy Secretary, sent a written notice to Liberty Mutual Insurance Company of hearing to be conducted for the purpose of determining whether Liberty Mutual had failed to make timely and prompt workmen's compensation payments to one Edward Wilson in violation of designated sections of The Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act*fn1 and whether Liberty Mutual should be penalized for such actions in accordance with Section 435*fn2 of the Act. The department appointed a workmen's compensation referee to preside at the hearing.

Liberty Mutual filed a petition with the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, raising a number of the questions which will be discussed in this opinion and asking the Board to direct the referee appointed not to proceed with the hearing. The Board denied the prayer of Liberty Mutual's petition without opinion and Liberty Mutual has appealed.*fn3

[ 40 Pa. Commw. Page 329]

Section 435 was added to the Workmen's Compensation Act with other amendments to the Act made by Act No. 12 of February 8, 1972, P.L. 25. The preamble to the amendments recorded as a deficiency intended to be cured the fact that although the Act gave the Department of Labor and Industry the responsibility for enforcing the Act, it failed to give the department needed powers and mechanisms to require employers to make reasonably prompt payment of compensation. Section 435 was designed to supply the need. It reads pertinently as follows:

435(a) The department shall establish and promulgate rules and regulations consistent with this act, which are reasonably calculated to:

(i) expedite the reporting and processing of injury cases,

(ii) insure full payment of compensation when due,

(iii) expedite the hearing and determination of claims for compensation and petitions filed with the ...


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