Widow’s Benefits

Our Client was a widow whose husband had died in a work-related accident in March of 2013, and as a result, she was receiving weekly wage loss benefits under the Workers’ Compensation Act. These wage loss benefits were payable to her as a surviving spouse until she remarried or unless it was determined that she had entered into a “meretricious” relationship. The Pennsylvania Courts have defined a meretricious relationship as one in which the widow is living with another, in a carnal way, without the benefit of marriage. In December 2016, the employer filed a Petition to Terminate our Client’s benefits alleging that the widow was currently engaged in a meretricious relationship. The employer was required to produce direct evidence of a carnal relationship to meet its burden of proof. In this case, the employer produced evidence in the form of the Client’s Facebook page wherein she declared that she was romantically involved with her paramour and that they were in love. Our client acknowledged that she and her paramour had been living together at the time the Petition was filed, but asserted that they were no longer engaged in a sexual relationship. The attorneys at Schemery Zicolello argued that the Client’s declaration that she was involved in a “romantic relationship” with her live-in boyfriend was insufficient under the law to satisfy the employer’s burden of proving by direct evidence the existence of a sexual relationship with her boyfriend. While still in litigation, Schemery Zicolello negotiated a lump sum settlement in the amount of $175,000, which represented six (6) years of future weekly wage loss benefits.