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W.R. Grace & Co. v. Swedo; Florida Rock Industries, Inc. v. Owens; Coffee v. Rent-A-Center, Inc.

August 5, 2020

Section 9-633 of the Labor and Employment Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland provides that if an award of permanent partial disability compensation in a workers’ compensation case is reversed or modified on appeal, the employer/insurer is entitled to a credit for compensation previously awarded and paid. The Court of Appeals was tasked with determining the appropriate method for crediting these payments.

In all three cases, the Workers’ Compensation Commission determined the injured worker sustained a permanent partial disability as a result of a work-related injury and awarded compensation. On appeal to the circuit court, the fact finder determined the injured worker was entitled to an increase in the permanent partial disability compensation previously awarded by the Commission.

Permanent partial disability compensation awards are set out as a specified rate of compensation paid to the injured worker for a certain number of weeks, (i.e., $234 per week for 240 weeks). The question on appeal was whether the employer/insurer was entitled to a credit for payments made during the pendency of the appeal based on the number of weeks previously paid, or for a total dollar amount paid. The employer/insurer argued in each case that they were entitled to a credit for the weeks paid and the injured worker disagreed.

The Court of Appeals held that under the plain meaning of Section 9-633, the employer and insurer shall be credited with “compensation previously awarded and paid.” “Compensation” is defined under the Workers’ Compensation Act as “money payable.” Therefore, the employer/insurer is entitled to a credit for the total dollars paid, not the total weeks paid.