Pennsylvania: Favorable Decision Granting Termination of Benefits in Workers’ Compensation Case
Zachary M. Rubinich, a partner in Rawle & Henderson’s Workers’ Compensation Section in its Philadelphia office, recently obtained a favorable decision from a workers’ compensation judge granting a Petition to Terminate the workers’ compensation benefits of an individual who had sustained a significant rotator cuff tear injury at work in 1999.
Mr. Rubinich successfully argued that the testimony of employer’s medical expert, a board-certified orthopedic surgeon who specializes in shoulder injuries and performs approximately 500 shoulder surgeries per year, was unequivocal, credible and persuasive that the injured worker had fully recovered from the residuals of his work injury and subsequent surgical repair of the rotator cuff based upon the objective diagnostic studies and objectively normal physical examination.
Furthermore, the workers’ compensation judge accepted Mr. Rubinich’s argument that the opinions offered by the injured worker’s medical expert were less credible and less persuasive because they contradicted the objective diagnostic studies and treatment notes which revealed a lack of ongoing residuals from surgery which would cause alleged future disability. Mr. Rubinich also was able to convince the workers’ compensation judge that the injured worker’s testimony suggesting a future need for treatment, medications and work restrictions was not credible or persuasive.
The workers’ compensation judge concluded that employer had sustained its burden of proving through competent and credible evidence that the injured worker was fully recovered from the 1999 work injury. Accordingly, the workers’ compensation judge terminated both future indemnity and medical benefits.
This was a significant victory for the employer since it achieved a termination of future indemnity and medical benefit exposure while providing the employer with an opportunity to file an Application for Supersedeas Fund Reimbursement with the Bureau for all overpayments of indemnity and medical benefits issued during this 15-month-long litigation proceeding.
Zachary M. Rubinich focuses his practice on the defense of insurance carriers, self-insured entities and third-party administrators against workers’ compensation claims in Pennsylvania. Based on his extensive experience, the Pennsylvania Bar Association Workers’ Compensation Law Section has certified him as Specialist in the practice of workers' compensation law. Zach has handled all aspects of litigation before workers’ compensation judges, the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board, the Commonwealth Court and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. He routinely counsels employers, insurance carriers and third party administrators on claims management, workplace safety, return-to-work programs, employment practices and risk management. He was recently selected as a member of the American Bar Association’s Tort Trial and Insurance Practice (TIPS) Workers’ Compensation and Employers’ Liability Law Committee for 2014-2015. Zach is rated AV Preeminent by Martindale-Hubbell. He has been selected as a Pennsylvania Rising Star by Super Lawyers from 2010 to 2014. He earned his J.D. degree from Widener University School of Law and a B.A. degree in political science and government from Lycoming College.