Argued, October 6, 2014
Appealed from No. A09-1880. State Agency: Workers' Compensation Appeal Board.
Daniel J. Siegel, Havertown, for petitioner.
Charles J. Barreras, Eagleville, for respondent.
BEFORE: HONORABLE BONNIE BRIGANCE LEADBETTER, Judge, HONORABLE P. KEVIN BROBSON, Judge, HONORABLE JAMES GARDNER COLINS, Senior Judge.
Claimant, Jacqueline Fields, petitions for review of an order from an equally divided Workers' Compensation Appeal Board that affirmed, by operation of law, the decision of the Workers' Compensation Judge (WCJ) granting her petition to review medical treatment and/or billing and denying her petition for penalties. We consider here whether benefits for multiple specific losses arising from the same injury should be paid consecutively or concurrently under the Workers' Compensation Act (Act). In determining that such benefits should be paid consecutively, we affirm.
In January 2003, Claimant sustained injuries to her left shoulder, arm, wrist and hand while restraining an inmate in the course of her employment as a prison guard for the City of Philadelphia. Pursuant to WCJ Bachman's December 2003 order, she received weekly total disability benefits in the amount of $450.59. In August 2006, WCJ Slom granted Claimant's
review petition and added a partial tear of the left rotator cuff, a left brachial plexus traction injury and reflex sympathetic dystrophy of the left upper extremity as part of her work injuries. In February 2008, WCJ Walsh granted her claim petition and awarded her 410 weeks of benefits for a specific loss of her left arm as of August 2006. She was also awarded a 20-week healing period. Accordingly, WCJ Walsh ordered that Claimant would continue to receive total indemnity benefits while she remained totally disabled and would then receive the award for the specific loss.
In June 2008, Claimant filed a review petition alleging the specific loss of her right lower extremity and/or right foot, which she subsequently amended to include the specific loss of her left leg. In September 2009, WCJ Baldys found that all of her 2003 work injuries had resolved into specific losses of her left arm and both legs. Accordingly, he granted the review petition and awarded her 410 weeks of specific loss benefits for her right leg, 410 weeks of specific loss benefits for her left leg and a 25-week healing period. He also ruled that the City was entitled to a credit for weekly temporary total disability benefits paid through the date of his decision. Subsequently, WCJ Baldys issued an amended/corrected decision therein changing the dates upon which interest was due for the various awards, but reaffirming his prior decision in all other respects.
On appeal, the Board determined that WCJ Baldys erred by awarding interest to commence on a different date for each specific loss and modified the accrual date to October 8, 2008 for all three awards. The Board opined that it was on that date that Claimant had evidence that all of her disability injuries had resolved into specific losses and that specific loss benefits were payable after total disability benefits had ended. This Court affirmed in Fields v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board (City of Philadelphia), 49 A.3d 454 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2012).
In April 2010, Claimant filed the petition to review medical treatment and/or billing at issue, alleging that she required a personal care attendant and modifications to both her home and vehicle as a result of her work-related injuries. She also filed a penalty petition, alleging that the City violated the Act in February 2010 by unilaterally reducing her payments. Previously, the City, in accordance with its January 2010 planned payment schedule, had been paying Claimant specific loss benefits concurrently, in the weekly amount of $1351.77. In February 2010, however, it switched her weekly benefit payments to the temporary total disability rate of $450.59 and has continued to pay her that amount.
In June 2011, WCJ Baldys concluded that Claimant met her burden in support of the review medical petition, but did not make a specific award for the costs of vehicle modification or home care services in light of her failure to submit estimates or invoices. He ...