On appeal from the Division of Workers' Compensation, New Jersey State Department of Labor.
R.s. Cohen, A.m. Stein*fn1 and Kestin. The opinion of the court was delivered by Kestin, J.s.c. (temporarily assigned).
The opinion by the court was delivered by
KESTIN, J.S.C. (temporarily assigned).
The petitioner suffered a work related injury in October 1987 and filed a workers' compensation claim. The trial in the Division of Workers' Compensation focused on the nature and extent of permanent disability, all other aspects of the case having been resolved or stipulated.
The matter came before Judge Boyle who considered testimony from the petitioner and medical reports from physicians on behalf of both the petitioner and the employer. Based upon this evidence, the Judge found that petitioner was "entitled to an award of permanent disability . . . to the extent of 50 percent partial total award as a combined orthopedic and neurological award." The Judge then broke this figure down "30 percent orthopedically . . . and 20 percent for neurological for residuals of anxiety reactions, phobic reaction, depressive reaction and neurosis." He then went on extensively and specifically to reject the petitioner's argument that a neuropsychiatric disability had been sustained. Judgment was entered, inter alia, for 50% of partial permanent disability.
On May 3, 1991 the employer filed a timely appeal "from the Judgment . . . which awarded fifty (50%) percent of partial permanent disability, including orthopedic and alleged neuropsychiatric disability." In the case information statement filed
with its notice of appeal, the employer stated the following as proposed issues to be raised on appeal:
Procedures of Judge of compensation, the findings that there was no neuropsychiatric disability. However, there was an award for residuals of anxiety reaction, phobic reaction, depressive reaction and neurosis. We will await receipt of written decision which may reveal other issues.
Clearly, the gravamen of the appeal was to be the inconsistency between the Judge's general finding of no neuropsychiatric disability and his specific findings as to the basis for the neurological portion of his award which were cast in neuropsychiatric terms.
Apparently, upon receiving a copy of the notice of appeal, Judge Boyle reviewed his records and recognized the asserted inconsistency. On May 6, 1991 he rendered a "supplemental decision amending original decision", acknowledging an error. He noted the basic determination of "50 percent of partial total disability as a combined orthopedic and neurological award" and that he had "ruled out any neurospsychiatric disability." He went on to describe as incorrect his attempt "to break down the award as to 30 percent orthopedically and 20 percent neurologically." He further noted:
The Court . . . misdescribed the neurological by using psychiatric terminology as follows: "20 percent for neurological for residuals of anxiety reaction; phobic reaction; depressive reaction." This was in error, as the Court ...