Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of John B. Bigley v. Unity Auto Parts, Inc., A-75755.
Raymond G. Hasley, of Rose, Schmidt, Dixon, Hasley, Whyte & Hardesty, for appellant.
Joseph F. Grochopol, with him Noble R. Zuschlag, for respondent.
Judges Wilkinson, Jr., Blatt and Craig, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Blatt. This decision was reached prior to the death of President Judge Bowman. Judge DiSalle did not participate in the decision in this case. Dissenting Opinion by Judge Craig.
[ 49 Pa. Commw. Page 449]
John B. Bigley (claimant) appeals from an order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board) affirming a referee's dismissal of his reinstatement petition.
On September 7, 1973, the claimant was injured in an automobile accident while riding in a vehicle owned by his employer, Unity Auto Parts, Inc. He initiated a trespass action against the employer on January 25, 1974, and, while that case was pending, he timely filed
[ 49 Pa. Commw. Page 450]
a workmen's compensation claim on September 3, 1975. No further action on the claim was taken until February 25, 1977, when, having settled the trespass action, the claimant, through his counsel, requested that his claim petition be withdrawn. On February 28, 1977, a referee issued an order dismissing the claim. Subsequently, on September 20, 1977, the claimant filed a reinstatement petition based on the same circumstances asserted in his original claim petition. A referee denied the petition, holding that the reinstatement petition was in effect a new claim petition and therefore barred by the limitation period of Section 315 of The Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act (Act), Act of June 2, 1915, P.L. 736, as amended, 77 P.S. § 602, and by the res judicata effect of the referee's unappealed order dismissing the original claim petition. The Board upheld the referee, and this appeal followed.
Section 315 of the Act reads in part as follows:
In cases of personal injury all claims for compensation shall be forever barred, unless, within three years after the injury, the parties shall have agreed upon the compensation payable under this article; or unless within three years after the injury, one of the parties shall have filed a petition as provided in article four hereof.
In Fox v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, 33 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 575, 382 A.2d 494 (1978), we had occasion to apply this section to circumstances very similar to those presented here. We observed there that the claimant's "modification petition was properly treated as a claim petition in light of the withdrawal of his original claim petition . . . and was thus subject to Section 315 of the Act." 33 Pa. ...