PA Commonwealth Court Rejects a Challenge to Act 111 Which Re-instituted IRE’s in Pennsylvania

On October 11, 2019, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court in the matter of Pa. AFL­CIO v. Commonwealth No. 62 M:D. 2019 dismissed a challenge to Act 111 with the Court concluding that Pennsylvania’s adoption of the AMA Sixth Edition Second Printing was a proper delegation of legislative authority.

On October 24, 2018, Act 111 reinstituted Impairment Rating Examinations in Pennsylvania in reaction to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s Decision in Protz v. WCAB (Derry Area School District) 161 A.3d 827 (Pa. 2017), which found aspects of Pennsylvania’s Impairment Rating process as unconstitutional.

The AFL-CIO filed a Petition for Review requesting declaratory as well as injunctive relief challenging the constitutionality of Act 111. Central to its claim was its theory that Act 111 violates Article II, Section 1 Non Delegation Doctrine of the Pennsylvania Constitution.

The Commonwealth Court addressing former section 302(a.2) noted the language of the statute was an unconstitutional delegation of authority of the legislature, insofar as the statute permitted IRE’ s under any future Editions of the American Medical Association guidelines. In essence, Petitioners argued newly enacted Section 306(a.3), also constituted an overly broad unconstitutional delegation of legislative authority.

The Court in Protz found that adoption of future Editions of the Guides was an overly broad delegation of legislative authority. The Court pointed out numerous instances where the General Assembly of Pennsylvania had likewise adopted in other contexts specific standards. In reviewing Act 111 which adopted the specific Sixth Edition (2d Printing April 2009) of the AMA Guides, the Court held that the specific adoption is consistent with proper exercise of legislative authority.

The Commonwealth Court rejected the challenge and dismissed the Petition for Review of the AFL-CIO. The AFL-CIO may now, within 30 days, petition the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to hear its further appeal. Appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court is not a matter of right but rather the Court elects whether or not it is willing to hear the request for appeal.

The Decision of the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court supports Employers’ and Carriers’ rights to secure Impairment Rating Examinations under the Act.

A copy of our Act 111 summary of 2018 is attached hereto for ready reference. We further attach a copy of the Commonwealth Court’s Decision. We will monitor the Commonwealth Court’s Decision for any further appellate activity.