Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, in the case of Joseph A. Munchinski, Deceased, Mary Jane Munchinski, Widow v. M.D.S. Laboratories, No. A-93524.
Raymond F. Keisling, Will, Keisling, Ganassi & McCloskey, for petitioners.
William F. Caruthers, Caruthers & Caruthers, P.C., for respondent, Joseph A. Munchinski, Deceased, Mary Jane Munchinski, Widow.
Judges Craig and Barry, and Senior Judge Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig.
[ 125 Pa. Commw. Page 461]
M.D.S. Laboratories and Insurance Company of North America (petitioners) appeal from an order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (WCAB) which assessed penalties pursuant to Section 435(d)(i) of The Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act, Act of June 2, 1915, P.L. 736, as amended, 77 P.S. § 991(d)(i) for
[ 125 Pa. Commw. Page 462]
failure to pay promptly compensation which had been awarded to Mary Jane Munchinski.
On January 16, 1986, the referee ordered the petitioners to pay compensation to Mrs. Munchinski for the work-related death of her husband. On January 31, 1986, the petitioners appealed and requested a supersedeas. Approximately ten months later, the WCAB denied the supersedeas. Petitioners allege that they never received notice of the denial from the WCAB. On November 21, 1986, the WCAB issued an order affirming the decision of the referee.
On January 16, 1987, Mrs. Munchinski filed a petition for penalties because petitioners had failed to pay any of the compensation the referee had ordered. Petitioners paid Mrs. Munchinski the past due compensation after receiving notice of that petition. After payment, the referee issued an order directing petitioners to pay a twenty-percent (20%) penalty on the compensation award from the date of the decedent's death through the date the past due benefits were paid. Petitioners appealed to the WCAB, which affirmed the penalty but advanced the beginning of the penalty period to the date of the referee's original order.
The issue before us is whether a defendant employer is justified in delaying prompt payment of compensation, and is thus relieved from late payment penalties when the defendant is awaiting a decision on a supersedeas, and when the WCAB fails to forward a copy of its supersedeas denial decision to the defendant.
Section 430 of the Act, 77 P.S. § 971, specifically provides that the lien of any judgment entered upon an award is not divested by an appeal. Furthermore, no appeal shall act as a supersedeas unless the board or court ...