TT&H Attorneys Catie McLaughlin and Lou Long Win Act 111 Case with Issue of First Impression Before Commonwealth Court
July 11, 2022
TT&H Attorneys Catie McLaughlin and Lou Long recently won an Act 111 case, setting precedent with an issue of first impression before the Commonwealth Court. The Claimant alleged that Act 111 violated the Pennsylvania Constitution in two ways – by involving due process and due course of law provisions retroactively, and violating the requirement of “reasonable compensation.”
The Court agreed with the arguments made by Catie and Lou, finding that a claimant does not have a vested right in ongoing workers’ compensation benefits, consistent with a series of cases that were handed down after the enactment of Act 111. Specifically, the Court concluded that the Claimant failed to establish that she had a vested right in her post-Protz-pre-Act 111 total disability status. The Court also agreed with Catie and Lou’s argument that Article III, Section 18 is not a limitation on the General Assembly, but rather a broad grant of authority to legislate workers’ compensation, which includes placing reasonable limits on how much and for how long a claimant may receive benefits. Although modification from total to partial status traditionally required an employer to show that a claimant regained earning power, it has never been the sole or only reasonable method of modification. Ultimately, the Court held that IREs are not inherently unreasonable as a means for employers to modify claimant’s disability status of total to partial and therefore did not violate the “reasonable compensation” provisions of Article III, Section 18.
The case was Martin Harold v. Abate Irwin (WCAB), and its companion case of Angela DiPaolo v. UPMC Magee Women’s Hospital (WCAB) was a published decision.