PA: Where Occupational Disease Is Manifested Outside 300-Week Prescription Period, Civil Action Against Employer Is Not Barred by Exclusivity

In a split decision, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania recently held that claims for an occupational disease, in this case mesothelioma resulting from asbestos exposure, which manifested outside the 300-week period prescribed by the Workers' Compensation Act (WCA), 77 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 411(2), did not fall within the purview of the WCA, and, therefore, the exclusivity provision of 77 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 481 did not apply to preclude employees from filing common law claims against their employers. The majority indicated that the exclusive remedy provision reflected the historical quid pro quo between an employer and employee whereby the employer assumes liability without fault for a work-related injury, but is relieved of the possibility of a larger damage verdict in a common law action. In as much as the legislature did not intend the WCA to apply to claims for disability or death resulting from occupational disease that manifested more than 300 weeks after the last occupational exposure, it also did not intend for the employer to take advantage of the exclusivity defense under the same circumstances.  Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law was quoted in the dissenting opinion.

Reported by Thomas A. Robinson, J.D.

LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance. Bracketed citations link to lexis.com.

See Tooley v. AK Steel Corp., et. al., 2013 Pa. LEXIS 2816 (Nov. 22, 2013) [2013 Pa. LEXIS 2816 (Nov. 22, 2013)]

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 100.04 [100.04]

Source: Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the nation’s leading authority on workers’ compensation law.

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