Supreme Court Vacates Keene Decision, but Commonwealth Court Reaches Same Conclusion on Remand

We previously discussed the decision in Keene v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Ogden Corp.). Here, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania reversed the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (WCAB), which had reversed the Workers’ Compensation Judge (WCJ). Essentially, the Court had found that the workers’ comp insurance carrier had failed to prove the injured worker had “voluntarily removed herself from the labor market.”

Subsequently, after the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania decided the City of Pittsburgh v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Robinson) case in 2013, the Supreme Court vacated the decision of the Commonwealth Court in Keene, and remanded back to the Commonwealth Court to reconsider the decision in light of the Robinson case.

Upon remand, in a recent decision, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania again reversed the WCAB, and again found the workers’ comp insurance carrier had failed to prove the injured worker had “voluntarily removed herself from the labor market.” This result is not surprising when one considers that the decision in Robinson also found that the injured worker had not “retired.” Indeed, it seems a bit odd that the Supreme Court even vacated the decision in Keene to begin with – the previous decision seemed perfectly consistent with Robinson anyway. Regardless, the result is again comforting to injured workers, as it is more difficult for a workers’ comp insurance carrier to stop benefits merely by alleging that an injured worker retired or voluntarily left the labor market.