Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Pennsylvania Supreme Court: Heart and Lung Benefits Not Subrogable

On January 28, 2011, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision in the case of Oliver v. City of Pittsburgh, 2011 WL 255614 (Pa. 2011), in which it concluded that Heart and Lung Benefits are not subrogable in motor vehicle accident matters under Pennsylvania law.

The case involved a police officer who was injured in a car accident in 1996. The City of Pittsburgh argued that it was entitled to subrogation because the repeal of 75 Pa.C.S.A. 1720 in 1994 by Act 44 Section 25(b) allowed for subrogation in workers compensation matters. The City asserted that Heart and Lung benefits were a form of workers compensation.

In rejecting the City's argument, the Supreme Court opinion by Justice Saylor relied upon the plain language of Section 25(b) of Act 44, which repealed the anti-subrogation provision as it relates to "workers' compensation payment or other benefits under the Workers' Compensation Act."

Given the lack of any ambiguity in the language of the statute, the Court held that "Section 25(b) repealed Sections 1720 of the MVFRL 'insofar as [it] relate[d] to workers' compensation payments or other benefits under the Workers' Compensation Act .... By its plain terms, such provision does not impact any anti-subrogation mandates pertaining to HLA benefits."

Here is a link to the Opinion: http://www.pacourts.us/OpPosting/Supreme/out/J-73-2010mo.pdf

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