Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of Pennsylvania Manufacturers' Association Insurance Company v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Bureau of Workers' Compensation, No. A-77687.
Laurence W. Dague, Assistant Attorney General, for petitioner.
John P. Thomas, for respondent, Pennsylvania Manufacturers' Association Insurance Company.
Judges Mencer, Craig and Palladino, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Mencer. This decision was reached prior to the resignation of Judge Wilkinson, Jr.
[ 58 Pa. Commw. Page 414]
The Department of Labor and Industry has appealed from a decision of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board) which granted reimbursement to the Pennsylvania Manufacturers' Association Insurance Company (insurer) from the Commonwealth's Supersedeas Fund for certain benefits paid to Quentin T. Hamory (claimant). We reverse.
The claimant was injured on January 24, 1976 in a job-related accident and was awarded total disability benefits. On January 25, 1977, the employer and its insurer filed a termination petition which alleged that the claimant was employed at a wage equal to or greater than his earnings at the time of the accident. A hearing was conducted on June 27, 1977, at which time the insurer moved to amend its petition to include a request for a supersedeas pursuant to Section 413(a) of The Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act (Act), Act of June 2, 1915, P.L. 736, as amended, 77 P.S. § 774.*fn1 The amendment was permitted and both the supersedeas request and the termination petition were ultimately granted. The insurer subsequently applied to the Commonwealth for reimbursement from the Supersedeas Fund for the period between January 25, 1977 and July 10, 1977, pursuant to Section 443(a) of the Act, added by Section 3 of the Act of February 8, 1972, P.L. 25, 77 P.S. § 999(a). This appeal followed.
Section 413(a) of the Act provides that
[t]he filing of a petition to terminate or modify a notice of compensation payable or a compensation agreement or award as provided in this
[ 58 Pa. Commw. Page 415]
section shall operate as a supersedeas . . . only when such petition alleges that the employe has returned to work at his prior or increased earnings or where the petition alleges that the employe has fully recovered.
Therefore, the termination petition of January 25 had the effect of an automatic supersedeas which immediately relieved the insurer of its obligation to pay benefits. See Department of Labor & Industry v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, 34 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 265, 383 A.2d 261 (1978). Nevertheless, the insurer continued to make benefit payments until July 10, 1977.
The insurer contends that it continued to pay benefits beyond the effective date of the automatic supersedeas because it could not prove the allegations made in the January 25 petition. For this reason, the insurer argues that the petition and the June 27 amendment should be treated as a ...