Can a Worker's Compensation Judge Dismiss a Penalty Petition If the Medical Bills Are Not Causally Related to the Claimant's Work Injury ?

In Buchanan v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Mifflin County School District), 167 Pa. Commw. 335, 648 A.2d 99 (Pa. Cmwlth.), appeal denied, 539 Pa. 682, 652 A.2d 1326 (1994), the Court held that a workers' compensation judge (WCJ) properly dismissed the claimant's penalty petition where the WCJ found that the unpaid medical bills submitted by the claimant in support of his penalty petition were not causally related to the claimant's compensable work injury. In Listino v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (INA Life Insurance Company), 659 A.2d 45 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1995), the Court discussed Buchanan and considered for the first time whether an employer, who unilaterally ceases to pay a claimant's medical costs on causation grounds, can be liable for penalties if a WCJ later finds that that the medical bills are causally related to the claimant's work injury. The Court held that, in such a case, the employer must pay all of the medical costs, and, further, the employer is subject to penalties under the Act, at the discretion of the WCJ.