Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of Edward Singer v. Fruehauf Corporation, No. A-85088.
Paul J. Dellasega, with him, Ira H. Weinstock, Ira H. Weinstock, P.C., for petitioner.
John J. Sylvanus, Stetler & Gribbin, for respondent, Fruehauf Corporation.
Judges Craig and Palladino, and Senior Judge Kalish, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig.
[ 90 Pa. Commw. Page 442]
Edward Singer appeals from a Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board order which affirmed a referee's decision that reduced Singer's compensation benefits originally granted in 1974 for a disabling injury.
After Singer's injury he received uncontested benefits but in 1976 his employer, Fruehauf, filed a petition to terminate benefits, and alleged that Singer could again work. At the hearing, counsel for both parties submitted to the referee a written stipulation of fact. The referee issued his findings of fact and, based on the stipulation, testimony, and other evidence, did not terminate benefits but instead reduced benefits effective as of the date of the stipulation, November 8, 1976, to reflect partial disability.
[ 90 Pa. Commw. Page 443]
Singer then filed a timely appeal to the board alleging that, contrary to the stipulation, he could not work and that physicians' reports submitted to the referee did not support the findings of fact. Although there is no explanation in the record, the board, without discussion and apparently pursuant to an agreement between the parties and the board, which is not contained in the record, reversed and remanded to the referee so that the referee could decide the merits of the case. The employer appealed the remand order to Commonwealth Court. We rejected the employer's appeal, noting that the remand order, because it was interlocutory in nature, was not an appealable order.
In the second hearing, the referee received testimony from Singer and his wife, as well as various letters from counselors and physicians previously submitted at the first hearing and resubmitted by separate stipulation of the parties, documenting Singer's condition and rehabilitation status. Based on the entire record, including the earlier stipulation, the referee again concluded that Singer was no longer totally disabled and from November 8, 1976, could only be considered as partially disabled, with a resulting reduction in benefits. The referee concluded that Singer could again perform various kinds of employment, within the limits of his medical condition.
Singer appealed this second referee decision to the board, contending that it was not supported by evidence, that the board had previously reversed and remanded findings based on the earlier stipulation and that the referee incorrectly continued to rely on the stipulation. The board affirmed, noting that the referee's decision "was a result of a stipulation entered into by both parties" and, further, saw "no reason to disturb an agreement of the parties based on the same evidence." This appeal followed. We affirm, concluding that, whatever the nature of Singer's alleged
[ 90 Pa. Commw. Page 444]
repudiation, the stipulation must continue as legally binding on the parties, the ...