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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD (BETHLEHEM MINES CORPORATION) (01/04/84)

decided: January 4, 1984.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND INDUSTRY, PETITIONER
v.
WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD (BETHLEHEM MINES CORPORATION), RESPONDENTS



Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in the case of Bethlehem Mines Corporation v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, No A-84205.

COUNSEL

Henry A. Riley, Assistant Counsel, for petitioner.

John J. Bagnato, with him Robert G. Rose, Spence, Custer, Saylor, Wolfe & Rose, for respondent, Bethlehem Mines Corporation.

President Judge Crumlish, Jr. and Judges MacPhail and Doyle, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge MacPhail.

Author: Macphail

[ 79 Pa. Commw. Page 291]

The Department of Labor and Industry (Department) has brought this appeal from an order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board) allowing Bethlehem Mines Corporation (Respondent) to receive reimbursement from the Supersedeas Fund

[ 79 Pa. Commw. Page 292]

    pursuant to Section 443 of The Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act (Act).*fn1

On October 16, 1979, Respondent filed a petition to terminate workmen's compensation benefits which it had been paying to John Kutchman (Claimant) for total disability since June 28, 1979, pursuant to a notice of compensation payable. The termination petition included a request for a non-automatic supersedeas.*fn2 The referee issued a decision granting the termination petition on September 24, 1980 and included therein a finding that he had granted an oral supersedeas to Respondent on November 21, 1979. The primary issue raised by this appeal is whether or not an oral supersedeas, which is never reduced to writing, is valid.

The importance of a supersedeas is that it enables an employer to suspend compensation payments pending the disposition of his termination petition. If the employer thereafter voluntarily continues to pay compensation, he does so at his own risk and may not be reimbursed for those payments should he ultimately succeed in the termination petition proceedings. See Department of Labor and Industry v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, 58 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 413, 427 A.2d 1277 (1981). If, however, a request for supersedeas is denied and the employer subsequently prevails in his termination petition, he is entitled to reimbursement from the Supersedeas Fund

[ 79 Pa. Commw. Page 293]

    for compensation payments which were not, in fact, due. Section 443(a) of the Act, 77 P.S. ยง 999(a).

In the instant case the Department contends that the referee's grant of an oral supersedeas on November 21, 1979, was effective to relieve Respondent of its obligation to pay further compensation. Thus, the Department would conclude that Respondent is not entitled to reimbursement for any payments which it made subsequent to November 21, 1979. The Department concedes, as it must, that the supersedeas was never reduced to writing. We observe that there is, accordingly, nothing ...


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