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Roundtree v. Workers' Comp. Appeal Bd. Phila.

Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania

May 8, 2015

Deborah Roundtree, Petitioner
v.
Workers' Compensation Appeal Board City of Philadelphia, Respondent

Submitted April 10, 2015

Appealed from No. A12-0273. State Agency Workers' Compensation Appeal Board.

Deborah Roundtree, Pro se.

BEFORE: HONORABLE DAN PELLEGRINI, President Judge, HONORABLE P. KEVIN BROBSON, Judge, HONORABLE JAMES GARDNER COLINS, Senior Judge.

OPINION

Page 141

DAN PELLEGRINI, JUDGE

Deborah Roundtree (Claimant) petitions pro se for review of an order of the Workers' Compensation Appeal Board (Board) affirming the Workers' Compensation Judge's (WCJ) order dismissing her claim petition for workers' compensation benefits (claim petition). For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

I.

In October 2010, Claimant filed a claim petition under the Workers' Compensation Act (Act),[1] asserting that in October 2007, while employed as a Forensic Technician with the City of Philadelphia (Employer), she sustained " [m]ajor [d]epressive disorder, recurrent, severe without psychotic features", when she was exposed to long-term harassment, a hostile work environment causing her occupational disease, and race, gender, and age discrimination. (Claim Petition, ¶ 1.) She also described her illness as including a " severely depressed mood, loss of interest in normal activities, fatigue, agitation, very poor concentration, loss of appetite, difficulty initiating and maintaining sleep, recurrent thoughts of death, nausea, diarrhea, fibromyalgia and extreme mental anguish. Claimant's entire body and mind are affected." ( Id. ) She sought payment of medical bills, attorneys' fees, and full disability benefits as of October 17, 2007. Employer filed an answer denying Claimant's allegations, and the parties underwent mandatory mediation without success.

Subsequently, a hearing was held before the WCJ on February 11, 2011, which Claimant did not attend. Four more hearings were held on March 25, 2011, April 20, 2011, October 26, 2011, and December 14, 2011. Claimant attended the March 25th hearing without counsel, and the WCJ indicated that another hearing would be held in thirty days at which Claimant would be given the opportunity to testify and present medical evidence. At that hearing on April 20th, Claimant testified but did not offer any medical evidence. The WCJ specifically informed Claimant, " Then what I'll do is I'll put in to relist the case in about 90 days.... And so at the next listing, you should be prepared to proceed with your medical evidence or psychological evidence or whatever you choose to present." (4/20/11 Hearing Transcript, at 107.)

At the next hearing on October 26th, Claimant attempted to enter her medical records into evidence, and Employer's counsel objected on the grounds of hearsay. The WCJ advised Claimant that the

Page 142

medical records could be admitted if Claimant wished to limit her claim to 52 weeks but otherwise, medical testimony would be required. The WCJ further provided Claimant thirty days to determine whether to depose a medical expert or so limit her claim, explaining:

Well, your claim has been open now since November of 2010. So by now, you should have known how you wanted to proceed. I am quite sure I advised you of this in April, that you will have to have medical testimony--a deposition, not records--if your claim is going to be more than 52 weeks of wage-loss benefits. I will give you a little bit more time to figure that out, but you have to make a decision or your claim's going to be dismissed, or the record closed; okay?

(10/26/11 Hearing Transcript, at 10.)

At the close of the hearing, the WCJ ...


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