Commonwealth Court Pension Decision – We’re Heading to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court
Our office represented the claimant, John Amodei, in Philadelphia Gas Works v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Amodei), No. 350 C.D. 2008 (Pa.Cmwlth., February 4, 2009), in which the Commonwealth Court ruled that, when an employer seeks an offset from workers’ compensation benefits for pension benefits paid to a claimant, the offset must be calculated based upon the net amount of the benefits received by the employee. This unanimous decision by an en banc panel of the Commonwealth Court effectively overruled Steinmetz v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Cooper Power Systems), 858 A.2d 182 (Pa.Cmwlth. 2004), as noted in one of the two concurring opinions. This decision applies to all pension offsets asserted against injured workers’ benefits and will eliminate the inequity that resulted when injured workers’ benefits were reduced by the gross amount of their pensions rather than the net.The employer, Philadelphia Gas Works, has filed a Petition with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court requesting that the Court hear the case and, presumably, reverse. Our office, which regularly handles appeals, has opposed the request. We will have to wait and see whether the Supreme Court will determine that the issues presented are of sufficient signficance for the Court to hear the case.