Bell's Repair Service v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board (Murphy Jr.)

850 A.2d 49 (2004)

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Bell’s Repair Service v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Murphy Jr.)

Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court
850 A.2d 49 (2004)

Facts

John Murphy, Jr. (plaintiff) was employed by Bell’s Repair Service (BRS) (defendant) as a mechanic when he slipped and fell on January 22, 2001. The incident was not witnessed by others. Murphy was injured and received treatment two days later in the emergency room. Two days after he left the hospital, Murphy was treated by another doctor. In March, Murphy filed for total-disability benefits. In May, Murphy was treated by an orthopedic surgeon, who found that Murphy had suffered a work-related lumbar strain as a result of the incident in January. On May 22, hearings began before a workers’-compensation judge (WCJ). The orthopedic surgeon testified that Murphy was fully recovered from the incident without restrictions. In July, Murphy left BRS and began working for Mongell’s Car Care. Hearings continued in October 2001 and January 2002. In January 2002, Murphy met with another orthopedic surgeon at BRS’s request, who determined that Murphy had suffered a work-related injury during the incident in January 2001 and that Murphy was fully recovered as of June 25, 2001. BRS contested the duration of Murphy’s disability and his credibility, but it did not provide evidence. At the final hearing date in April 2002, the WCJ granted Murphy benefits from January 23 through June 25, 2001, found that BRS’s contest of the claim was unreasonable, and granted attorney’s fees. BRS appealed to the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (the board) (defendant), which affirmed the WCJ’s decision regarding the duration of disability. BRS filed a petition for rehearing with the board, seeking review of the determination that the contest was unreasonable. The board affirmed its prior decision and order. BRS appealed, arguing that it was reasonable to contest Murphy’s credibility because the incident was unwitnessed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Kelley, J.)

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