Case Update: Requests for Modification


In Gang v. Montgomery County, the Claimant, Officer Peter Gang, sustained injuries in September 2011 while working as a correctional officer for Montgomery County. He filed a claim with the Workers' Compensation Commission. In May 2012, after a hearing on the nature and extent of his injuries, the Commission issued an Award providing that he be paid compensation at the rate of $157.00, payable weekly, beginning October 21, 2011, for a period of 70 weeks. Four years later, Officer Gang filed a request for document correction with the Commission seeking an adjustment of his 2012 Award on the basis that he qualified as a public safety employee under LE §9-628(a)(5) and was entitled to a greater rate of compensation, which was not reflected in the 2012 Award, and that the Commission had the power to amend the 2012 Award under its continuing jurisdiction power. The Commission agreed and issued an amended Award retroactively changing his rate of compensation from $157.00 to $314.00. The County opposed, as it did not agree to the document correction, and requested a rehearing with the Commission on the matter. After the hearing, the Commission affirmed its Order which increased the rate of compensation to reflect his status as a public safety employee.

The County petitioned for judicial review in the Circuit Court, which eventually affirmed the decision of the Commission reasoning that the Workers' Compensation Act gives the Commission broad authority to make any changes that it believes are justified within five years from the latter of the date of the accident, the date of disablement or the last compensation payment, without the occurrence of an aggravation, diminution or termination of disability. The County appealed this decision to the Court of Special Appeals.

The Court of Special Appeals issued an unreported opinion in August 2018 reversing the Circuit Court and holding that the Commission erred in retroactively modifying Officer Gang's Award. It noted that the Commission's revisory power under LE § 9-736 is broad, but not unlimited, and did not apply in this case. The opinion was later re-filed as reported, and therefore, binding precedent on all of Maryland's courts, in November 2018.

The Court of Appeals granted certiorari to determine whether the Commission has the authority to reopen a claim and retroactively readjust a rate of compensation within five years from the date of the last compensation payment when it finds that, based on a mistake or error, the injured employee received a lower rate of compensation than that to which he was otherwise entitled. The Court found that the Commission had the authority to reopen Officer Gang's award and retroactively adjust his rate of compensation because his timely request for such change was based on a mistake or error.

The Court of Appeals determined that LE § 9-736(a) does not limit or otherwise restrict the jurisdiction of the Commission to modify its previous findings, orders, or awards under LE § 9-736(b), provided that the modification sought is applied for within five (5) years after the date of disablement or the last compensation payment. This case serves as a reminder to ensure that all awards and orders are accurate and correct, as a failure to do so may prolong the statute of limitations.

A copy of the Opinion can be found at: