Home > Uncategorized > Horton Hears a Contribution Demand

Horton Hears a Contribution Demand

“Even though you can’t hear them or see their jig, an insurer’s a person, no matter how big.”

Such was the rule articulated in Richard Horton v. Crown Cork and Seal, a recent panel decision from the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board.

Applicant Richard Horton received a stipulated award for a 2002 injury in 2004, entitling him to indemnity totaling $45,262.50 and future medical treatment.  In 2006, he filed a petition to reopen for new and further disability, including a new injury to the psyche.  The matter was against resolved by stipulation, this time at 66%, up from the previous award of 49%.  This time, applicant’s pay day was an additional $21,760.

Well, between the 2002 injury and the 2006 injury, employer Crown Cork and Seal switched insurers from Travelers Insurance Company to American Protection Insurance Company, so APIC naturally filed a petition for contribution from Travelers.  The petition was referred to arbitration.

The arbitrator decided this case on the term “new and distinct benefits” as used in Rex Club v. Workers’ Comp. Appeals Bd.  Rex Club noted that “[i]f the WCAB determined that SCIF could seek contribution only as to the $200,000 awarded pursuant to the 1994 order approving compromise and release, the WCAB is correct to the extent the order awarded new and distinct benefit.”

The arbitrator interpreted this to mean that APIC was barred from seeking contribution form Travelers because the benefits awarded after the 2006 petition to reopen were not new and distinct from those awarded in 2004.

The WCAB disagreed and granted APIC’s petition for reconsideration.  In arriving at its decision, the WCAB reasoned that “[t]he second award provided benefits for new and further disability arising out of the original injury as well as disability arising from an injury to the psyche as a compensable consequence of the original injury.


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