Sunday, July 21, 2019

Maryland Court of Appeals Reverses Lower Court’s Decision on Workers’ Compensation Commission’s Continuing Jurisdiction

Peter Gang v. Montgomery County, Maryland, No. 67, September Term, 2018. Opinion by Battaglia, J.
On January 21, 2019, RSRM published a blog on a then-recent decision by the Maryland Court of Special Appeals regarding the Workers’ Compensation Commission’s continuing jurisdiction.[1]  On June 24, 2019, the Maryland Court of Appeals reversed the judgment of the Court of Special Appeals’ and remanded the case, with directions to affirm the judgment of the Circuit Court.
In reaching its decision, the Court of Appeals found that the Workers’ Compensation Commission had the authority to reopen an injured employee’s award of permanent partial disability compensation and retroactively adjust the rate of compensation. Contrary to the Court of Special Appeals’ interpretation, the Court of Appeals determined that Section 9-736(a) of the Labor and Employment Article does not limit or otherwise restrict the jurisdiction of the Workers’ Compensation Commission to modify its previous findings, orders, or awards under Section 9-736(b), provided that the modification sought is applied for within five (5) years after the date of disablement or the last compensation payment.
The Court of Appeals was unbothered that the Claimant did not strictly comply with the procedures of the Workers’ Compensation Commissioner for submitting a modification application.  The Court of Appeals also held that Claimant did not waive his right to request a higher rate of compensation by failing to appeal, failing to seek judicial review pursuant to Section 9-737 of the Labor and Employment Article, or failing to file a motion for rehearing pursuant to Section 9-726 of the Labor and Employment Article.  
This case highlights the importance of ensuring that all orders and awards, and documents and information affecting such orders and awards, are accurate. Failure to do so may result in opposing counsel using this ruling as a tactic to prolong the statute of limitations.  

-Ashley Bond, Associate Attorney