Can Employer Amend a Compromise and Release by Attempting to Continue the Litigation ?
In Stroehmann Bakeries, Inc. v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board (Plouse), 768 A.2d 1193 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2001) the employer filed a termination petition alleging that the claimant had fully recovered from his injuries.
A Workers' Compensation Judge (WCJ) subsequently held hearings, but the parties entered into a compromise and release (C&R) in which the claimant accepted a lump sum payment in exchange for the release of all liability. Stroehmann, 768 A.2d at 1194.
Notwithstanding the WCJ's approval of the C&R, the employer requested that the WCJ still issue an opinion and order on the termination petition based upon the medical evidence of record entered by the employer. Id. the WCJ dismissed the termination petition as moot, concluding that the C&R resolved the issue of all wage loss and benefits arising out of the original injury. Id. at 1195.
On appeal, the Board affirmed, noting that the employer should not be permitted to constructively amend the C&R by attempting to continue the litigation settled by the C&R agreement itself. Id.
Upon the employer's petition to this Court for review of the Board's order in Stroehmann, the Court affirmed the Board's conclusion that the issue in the employer's termination petition - namely, claimant's alleged full recovery from his work-related injury - was the same issue settled in the parties' C&R. Id. at 1196.