Pennsylvania Supreme Court to Hear Appeal in Protz v. WCAB (Derry Area School District)


The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on March 22, granted allowance to hear the appeal and cross appeal in Mary Ann Protz v. WCAB (Derry Area School District). As many of you are aware the underlying Commonwealth Court decision held that the Impairment Rating Evaluation (IRE) provisions of the Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation Act (PWCA) requiring use of "the most recent edition of the American Medical Association Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment" to be unconstitutional. The Commonwealth Court then remanded the case for application of the Fourth Edition Guides. The specific issues to be addressed by the Supreme Court upon appeal are:

  1. Does Section 306(a.2) of the PWCA unconstitutionally delegate the State Legislature's lawmaking authority in violation of Article II, Section 1 of the Pennsylvania Constitution by incorporating the most recent edition of the AMA Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment?
  2. Whether the Commonwealth Court, after properly determining that Section 306(a.2) of the Workers' Compensation Act was unconstitutional, erred in remanding the case to the Workers' Compensation Judge with instructions to apply the Fourth Edition of the American Medical Associations Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment when the Fourth Edition and its usage was not sanctioned by the Pennsylvania Legislature.

Comment: The timeframe for a decision by the Supreme Court is variable and uncertain. Until then confusion will continue regarding: What Impairment Rating procedures can be relied upon to affect a change in disability status in pending matters? Whether already decided IRE matters will be disturbed, and whether any IRE procedures will survive the constitutional challenge. All stakeholders should welcome the guidance that a Supreme Court decision should provide.

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Lexi Burchmore

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