A Pennsylvania man injured while trying to break up a fight at a state juvenile detention center where he worked is not entitled to reimbursement for workers’ compensation litigation costs, a state appeals court ruled Tuesday.
A three-judge panel of the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court ruled in Jeffrey Chamberlin v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board that the board was right to affirm a workers’ compensation judge’s decision that denied the counselor reimbursement for his legal costs.
Chamberlin was injured in 2015 after struggling with two youth detention center residents engaged in a fight. He was approved for workers’ compensation about two months after the incident and subsequently went out on total disability leave.
Four years later, at the request of the state, a workers' compensation judge changed Chamberlin’s benefits status from total to partial disability due to an impairment rating evaluation by a physician. Chamberlin appealed, asserting a new arm injury related to the workplace incident.
The Commonwealth Court affirmed the comp board’s ruling that the additional biceps injury failed to either increase or decrease Chamberlin’s total disability; that he was not entitled to litigation costs because adding biceps tenodesis to his work injury description did not confer any financial benefit; and that the independent rating evaluation provisions in Pennsylvania’s Workers’ Compensation Act did not violate his rights under the state Constitution due to the court previously ruling on that issue.
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