• Pennsylvania Supreme Court Concludes That The Word "Compensation," As Used In Section 314 (A), Does Not Per Se Include Payment Of Medical Benefits
  • July 7, 2012 | Authors: G. Jay Habas; Francis X. Wickersham
  • Law Firms: Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin, P.C. - Erie Office ; Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin, P.C. - King Of Prussia Office
  • Giant Eagle, Inc. v. WCAB (Givner); No. 14 WAP 2010; decided March 13, 2012; opinion by Justice McCaffery

    The claimant sustained a work injury and began receiving wage loss benefits. Later, the employer filed a suspension petition, alleging the claimant failed to attend the physical examination it scheduled. The petition was granted by a Workers’ Compensation Judge, and the claimant was ordered to attend the physical examination. The employer also stated that if the claimant failed to attend the examination without good cause, the failure could result in a suspension of his benefits.

    The claimant violated the order and did not attend the examination. The employer filed another petition, requesting a suspension of the claimant's benefits. The judge granted the petition, and a suspension of wage loss benefits was ordered. Arguing that medical expenses should have been suspended as well, the employer appealed to the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board. The Appeal Board dismissed the appeal, concluding that medical expenses are considered compensation under the Act when an employer has not yet been determined to be liable but are not considered compensation when liability has already been established.

    The Commonwealth Court affirmed. However, it also held that a judge could, within his or her discretion, suspend both medical and wage loss benefits pursuant to § 314 (a).

    The Supreme Court held that, under proper circumstances, compensation under § 314 (a) may include medical benefits as well as wage loss benefits. The Court viewed § 314 (a) as a discretionary mechanism to order a claimant to attend a physical examination or expert interview. The Court, in analyzing § 314 (a) within its proper context, exploring its plain language and applying principles of statutory construction, concluded that the term "compensation" as used in § 314 (a) need not always include medical benefits or, for that matter, wage loss benefits.