A recent Appellate Division decision, Stancil, v. ACE USA, A-1438-09T1, (approved for publication 2/1/11) upholds the decision in Flick v. PMA Ins. Co., 394 N.J.Super. 605 (App. Div. 2007) that the Division of Workers’ Compensation provides adequate remedies for injured workers when faced with a recalcitrant insurance carrier. In the aftermath of Flick, the Division of Workers’ Compensation adopted regulations conferring greater authority upon judges of compensation, including contempt powers.
This authority was later codified by the Legislature at N.J.S.A. 34:15-28.2(e). This provision enables a Judge to, … “Hold a separate hearing on any issue of contempt and, upon a finding of contempt by the judge of compensation, the successful party or the judge of compensation may file a motion with the Superior Court for enforcement of those contempt proceedings”. The Legislature considered and rejected broader language which was found to be evidence that a Superior Court action was intended to be an enforcement proceeding only. When faced with an insurance company that ignores or deliberately disobeys a court order, the sole remedy lies within the Division of Workers’ Compensation.