Filing Petition of Workers Comp Termination After Reinstatement of Benefits

In Green v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board (Jefferson Health Services), 711 A.2d 575 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1998), appeal denied, 557 Pa. 656, 734 A.2d 863 (1999), the employer filed a termination petition after the claimant had been granted a reinstatement of benefits. The claimant argued that the termination petition was barred by the principles of res judicata and/or collateral estoppel as a result of the reinstatement. In affirming the termination of benefits, the court in Green explained that the reinstatement petition was granted by the WCJ based upon Claimant's physical inability to perform her pre-injury work as of June 21, 1992, while the termination petition focused on whether Claimant fully recovered from the work injury as of September 6, 1994. The court emphasized that the critical date in the termination proceeding was in excess of two years after the reinstatement of the claimant's benefits. The court also stated: The prior decision of the WCJ to grant Claimant a reinstatement of benefits as of June 21, 1992, was not challenged in the present proceeding. The medical witness did not re-examine Claimant until September 6, 1994, and did not address Claimant's physical condition during the time at issue in the reinstatement proceeding; instead, the medical witness confined her analysis to Claimant's physical condition as of his September 6, 1994, examination. Id. at 577. The court concluded that the issues involved in the termination proceeding were different from the issues presented in the prior reinstatement proceeding and, therefore, the termination petition was not barred by either the doctrine of res judicata or collateral estoppel.