Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of James Hesson v. Bi-Lo Shop-N-Bag, No. A-02621.
Susan McLaughlin, with her David L. Pennington, Harvey, Pennington, Herting & Renneisen, Ltd., for petitioners.
Carl M. Mazzocone, Kates, Livesey and Mazzocone, P.C., for respondent, James Hesson.
Judges Mencer, Rogers and Palladino, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Palladino. Judge Wilkinson, Jr. did not participate in the decision in this case.
[ 60 Pa. Commw. Page 134]
Petitioners (employer and employer's insurer) appeal an order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board) which denied the employer's petition for additional medical examinations of Claimant (employe). We remand.
As the result of a work-related injury in the course of employment, Claimant was awarded total disability benefits. Following the injury and the compensation award, Claimant was examined by several doctors including an orthopedic surgeon and a rheumatologist who were selected by Petitioner-employer.
On January 25, 1980, the Board issued an order denying the employer's petition for further medical examination of Claimant. The order was rendered without a hearing and was unaccompanied by an opinion.
Section 414 of The Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act (Act), Act of June 2, 1915, P.L. 736, as amended, 77 P.S. § 775, states that "[w]henever a . . . petition is presented to the department, the department shall . . . assign it to a referee for hearing." (Emphasis added.) Thus, "the Board [is] statutorily obligated to assign [a petition] to a referee for hearing." School District of Philadelphia v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, 17 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 525, 528, 333 A.2d 223, 225 (1975). In the case before us, the Board denied the petition without a hearing.
Section 418 of the Act, 77 P.S. § 833, outlines the important evidentiary function of a hearing:
The referee to whom a petition is assigned for hearing, may subpoena witnesses, order the production of books and other writings, and hear evidence, shall make a record of hearings, and shall make, in writing. . . such findings of fact, conclusions of law, and award or disallowance
[ 60 Pa. Commw. Page 135]
of compensation or other order, as the petition and answers and the evidence produced before him and the provisions of this act shall, in ...