Third-doctor referral in labor law

CASE DIGEST: [G.R. No. 233665, April 11, 2018]. MANUEL B. GUTIERREZ -- VERSUS -- BRIGHT MARITIME CORPORATION, EVALEND SHIPPING COMPANY SA AND/OR DESIREE P. SELLAR.

FACTS: The company's designated physician issued a fit-to-work assessment but the employee did not avail of a third doctor's opinion.

HELD: The Supreme Court RESOLVED to DENY the instant Petition and AFFIRM the March 28, 2017 Decision and August 17, 2017 Resolution of the CA.

In the case of Philippine Hammonia Ship Agency, Inc. v. Dumadag, the Court held that a seafarer's non-compliance with the procedure under the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration Standard Employment Contract (POEA-SEC) militates against his claim for permanent disability benefits. The Court explained:
The filing of the complaint constituted a breach of Dumadag's contractual obligation to have the conflicting assessments of his disability referred to a third doctor for a binding opinion. The petitioners could not have possibly caused the non-referral to a third doctor because they were not aware that Dumadag secured separate independent opinions regarding his disability. Thus, the complaint should have been dismissed, for without a binding third opinion, the fit-to-work certification of the company-designated physician stands, pursuant to the POEA-SEC and the CBA. As it turned out, however, the LA and the NLRC relied on the assessments of Dumadag's physicians that he was unfit for sea duty, and awarded him permanent total disability benefits.
In view of petitioner's failure to comply with the procedure mandated under the POEA-SEC, the CA did not commit any reversible error when it upheld the fit-to-work assessment of the company-designated physician.

Popular Posts