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Workers’ Compensation update

For the firm clients who have Workers’ Compensation cases with us, a message from the State:

To help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania, Governor Tom Wolf directed the closure of all Pennsylvania state government offices for a minimum of 14 days effective Tuesday, March 17, 2020. All hearings and mediations scheduled during that time are cancelled and will be rescheduled as soon as practicable. Some of the WCJ’s, who are already equipped to work from home, have reached out to discuss rescheduling arrangements for mediations. Those will go forward. In addition, in an effort to provide some adjudicatory services, I have authorized the use of telephone hearings for Petitions to Approve Compromise and Release (C&R) Agreements. Requests to schedule C & R hearings are being accepted in all district offices. Beyond that, we will be expanding WCJ telework capabilities generally to conduct telephone hearings on other types of petitions.   For now, the protocol to request a special C & R telephone hearing during the time of government shutdown is as follows: send an e-mail request to the Judge Manager of the district where the case is pending (SE District, JM San Angelo, [email protected]; Eastern District, JM Wertheimer, [email protected]; Central District, JM Goduto, [email protected]; Western District, JM Cicola, [email protected] Your request must include the case caption, dispute #, names and e-mail addresses of counsel, telephone numbers if available, and whether the case requires translation services (include language of testimony to be translated). WCOA staff will schedule the court reporter. The JM will re-assign the case to a specially selected WCJ who will then schedule and conduct the C & R hearing telephonically. The C & R agreement must be notarized. The WCJ assigned to hear the case will advise the parties how the telephone conference is to be arranged and how the C & R documents are to be transmitted prior to the telephone hearing.    This emergency protocol is just a start, and we appreciate your patience. We will continue to expand telephonic participation to include more WCJ’s for more types of petitions/hearings. Please refer to WCAIS Alerts on your Dashboard daily for updates.   Sincerely, WCOA Director, Joseph DeRita
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