New PA Workers’ Comp Judges Added, Others on the Move

Sometimes the Pennsylvania Bureau of Workers’ Compensation is hard to figure out. Typically, the hiring or transfer of Workers’ Compensation Judges (WCJs) is done behind the scenes with no formal notice or announcement. We usually discover the news through the grapevine. Indeed, yesterday, a member of the judiciary advised us of some impending transfers and new assignments. Yet, before we could even put pen to (virtual) paper for a blog entry, we were shocked and delighted by the receipt of an e-mail from the Bureau, announcing all of the new WCJ hirings and transfers.

There will be three new WCJs added to the judiciary, all in the Central District. In the Harrisburg Workers’ Compensation Hearing Office, Jeffrey Russell will be the New WCJ. Nathan Pogirski has been added to the bench in the Pottsville Workers’ Compensation Hearing Office, and Daniel Snyder will be taking the bench in the Wilkes-Barre Workers’ Compensation Hearing Office.

Additionally, several WCJs will be transferring to different hearing offices. Judge Kutz will remain in the Central District, moving from Pottsville to Harrisburg. Moving from the Central to the Eastern District, Judge Weyl goes from Harrisburg to Lancaster. Previously in Lancaster, Judge Hetrick will now be in Reading, both in the Eastern District. Also staying in the Eastern District will be Judge Puhala, who moves from Reading to Allentown. Judge Beach leaves the Eastern District’s Allentown office, going to the Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Hearing Office, located in the Southeastern District. In the Western part of the State, Judge Jones moves from Washington to Pittsburgh, and Judge Santoro journeys across the State, leaving Philadelphia and heading for New Castle.

While it is certainly unusual for the Bureau to formally announce moves with the WCJs such as these, it is also rather unprecedented to have so many Judges being hired or transferred at one time. Whether this is a new stage of open communication being welcomed by the Bureau, or just a step taken due to an unusually large move, remains to be seen.