CP# 99-5187 Prudential Prop. & Cas., as nominee v. National Parts Supply
State of New Jersey
DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
DONALD F. DiFRANCESCO
May 9, 2001
Robert G. Wilson, Esq.
Mark Lawhead, Esq.
re: Prudential Prop. & Cas., as nominee v. National Parts Supply - C.P. 99-005187
This matter was listed for March 29, 2001. On or shortly prior to that date I received a letter brief and covering correspondence from counsel for Prudential Prop. & Cas. to the effect that both counsel in this matter had agreed that (i) an initial legal issue required resolution before the case could properly proceed , and (ii) such issue would be presented by briefing without oral argument. It was my understanding that respondent's brief was due on April 19, 2001; no responding brief has been received to date.
I have reviewed the matter in the interim and present the following opinion at this time as my ruling on the immediate issues raised by the pleadings and petitioner's brief, i. e. first: does the resolution of a workers' compensation case under N.J.S.A. 34:15-20 cancel or terminate the rights of a subrogating PIP carrier who has paid medical expenses of the petitioner that are related to the injury which is the basis of the aforesaid compensation case;
second: if the above query is answered in the affirmative, are the subrogation/recovery rights of the PIP carrier/provider affected by the fact that the medical services in question were not authorized by the workers compensation carrier?
Under the existing case law of this state each of the above questions receives a negative answer. Insofar as the affect of a Section 20 settlement on a non-consenting PIP carrier I direct counsel's attention to Hetherington v. Brianwood Coachlight, 253 N.J. Super. 484, 489 (App. Div. 1992) which presents legislative intention to the mutual interpretation of Sections 15.1 and 20. As noted by Judge Andrew Smith in Royal Ins. Co. et al. v. Pohlman et al., 95 N.J.A.R.2d (WCC) 83, 87 (1994) "it is clear from the Hetherington case, supra. that the parties before Judge Rosati in 1993 could not have extinguished Royal's subrogation claim even if they had wanted to do so."
As regards the fact that the medical services provided or paid for by a PIP carrier were not authorized by the appropriate workman's compensation carrier, I direct your attention to Rutgers Casualty Ins. Co. et al. v. Hudson County Police Dept ., A-2555-97T1 (App. Div.1999) which, following Chubb Group v. Trenton Bd. of Ed., 304 N.J. Super. 10 (App. Div. 1997) cert. den. 152 N.J. 188 (App. Div. 1997), held that a PIP carrier's right of reimbursement is neither affected nor compromised by the manner in which an injured employee elects to pursue the benefits or remedies available to him/her under the Compensation Statute.
Based on the foregoing case law I will sign the proposed form of order submitted by counsel for Prudential Prop. & Cas. as nominee for the purpose of reinstating Claim Petition 99-005187 for the sole purpose of determining the rights of such party to recover against the respondent for monies paid to or for the benefit of medical services rendered to Anthony Ferraro which were causally related to the work-related injuries suffered by the latter on March 14, 1997.
Neale F. Hooley
Judge of Compensation