Difference Between Conflicting Testimony by Way of Deposition and Live Testimony
In Daniels v. Workers' Comp. Appeal Bd. (Tristate Transp.), 574 Pa. 61, 828 A.2d 1043 (2003), the Supreme Court considered the proper construction of Section 422(a)'s reasoned decision requirement in a case with conflicting evidence.
In considering what constitutes an adequate explanation for resolving conflicting testimony, the Court distinguished between live testimony and deposition testimony.
Specifically, the Court stated:
In a case where the fact-finder has had the advantage of seeing the witnesses testify and assessing their demeanor, a mere conclusion as to which witness was deemed credible, in the absence of some special circumstance, could be sufficient to render the decision adequately reasoned. Id. at 77, 828 A.2d at 1053.
Where witnesses provide conflicting testimony by way of deposition, however, a Workers' Compensation Judge (WCJ) must articulate some objective basis for his credibility determination. Id.
The Daniels Court further explained:
There are countless objective factors which may support the decision to accept certain evidence while 'rejecting or discrediting competent conflicting evidence.'
For example, expert witness's opinion may be based upon erroneous factual assumptions ... or an expert may have had less interaction with the subject ... or the interaction was in a less timely fashion ... or the expert may betray a bias or interest in the matter. .... In addition, an expert witness may be unqualified or less qualified than the opposing party's expert; or may be impeached with inconsistencies or contradictions in his or her testimony or reports; or may be impeached in some other convincing fashion. Id. at 78, 828 A.2d at 1053.