CASE NO. 4178 CRB-2-00-1
COMPENSATION REVIEW BOARD
WORKERS’ COMPENSATION COMMISSION
MAY 24, 2001
ESTATE OF NOZARIO MELENDEZ
RAMONA MELENDEZ, (Dependent Widow)
WAUSAU INSURANCE CO.
SECOND INJURY FUND
JOHN A. MASTROPIETRO, CHAIRMAN. The claimant, the dependent widow of the decedent Nozario Melendez, has moved to correct the May 1, 2001 opinion of this board in the above matter. Melendez v. Valley Metallurgical, 4178 CRB-2-00-1 (May 1, 2001). She has requested that we make two adjustments to that decision. Though there is no provision in our law that establishes a procedure for the filing of a Motion to Correct a decision of this board, we generally allow Motions for Articulation. In that vein, we shall construe the claimant’s filing as a similar motion, but with more structure.
First, the claimant seeks a ruling that § 31-303 penalties may be imposed based on the respondents’ unexplained reduction of the claimant’s benefits from $66.61 per week to $62.66 per week from November 14, 1994 through April 23, 1999. We disagree, and decline to do so. We do not believe that the provisions of § 31-303 are meant to address a small, erroneous adjustment in benefits that takes place 24 years after the approval of the underlying Finding and Award. Section 31-303 enforces the timely commencement of payment after the entry of an award or the execution of an agreement. Thus, we deny the first requested correction.
Second, the claimant asks us to direct the trial commissioner to articulate whether he actually or impliedly found that the respondent “unreasonably contested liability” as per § 31-300 (Rev. to 1970). The trier made a $20,000 award of attorney’s fees against the respondents, but we held that such an award was inappropriate in this case, as there had been no finding of unreasonable contest. Rather, the respondents had inadvertently delayed the adjustment of compensation, which was not a transgression remediable by an award of attorney’s fees until 1988. Said change in the law does not apply retroactively to cases based upon 1970 injuries. Though we do not consider it likely that the respondents’ conduct in the instant matter amounts to an unreasonable contest of liability based on the trial commissioner’s findings, particularly ¶ H, it so happens that we have ordered issues regarding interest and attorney’s fees to be addressed on remand. We will not direct the trier to enter a finding on the subject of unreasonable delay while he is considering the issues properly before him, but will afford him the leeway to articulate his implicit finding of undue delay if he so chooses, including whether an unreasonable contest of liability was, in his opinion, present here.
Commissioners Leonard S. Paoletta and Ernie R. Walker concur.