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HARLAN v. WASHINGTON NATIONAL INSURANCE COMPANY (03/18/57)

March 18, 1957

HARLAN
v.
WASHINGTON NATIONAL INSURANCE COMPANY, APPELLANT.



Appeal, No. 230, Jan. T., 1956, from judgment of Court of Common Pleas No. 5 of Philadelphia County, March T., 1954, No. 786, in case of Mary Emily Harlan, administratrix of estate of Charles F. Harlan, deceased v. Washington National Insurance Company. Judgment affirmed.

COUNSEL

Robert A. Detweiler, for appellant.

J. M. Marsh, with him Charles L. Ford, and LaBrum & Doak, for appellee.

Before Jones, C.j., Bell, Chidsey, Musmanno, Arnold, Jones and Cohen, JJ.

Author: Musmanno

[ 388 Pa. Page 89]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE MUSMANNO

For 40 years Charles F. Harlan worked for the Consolidated Dressed Beef Company in various capacities, qualifying during the latter 25 years of his employment as a specialist in the purchase of live cattle. In November, 1952, he notified the president of the company, Baldwin Haines, that he was not enjoying the best of health and wished to absent himself until he should feel better. The president approved Mr. Harlan's request and agreed that during the time he was away the company would pay him $100 per month.

On March 30, 1953, Harlan died, and his widow, as administratrix of his estate, applied for benefits payable under the group life insurance policy which her husband through his employer, carried with the Washington National Insurance Company. The company refused payment on the averment that Harlan at the time of his death was not, as the policy required him to be, a "full time, permanent employee." Mrs. Harlan sued on the policy and recovered a verdict for the face value of the policy, $3,000. The defendant company asks for judgment n.o.v., contending that the evidence does not support the jury's finding.

It can scarcely be questioned that Harlan was a permanent employee of the Consolidated Dressed Beef Company; he did not resign and he was not discharged. The only matter for consideration on this appeal is whether this Court should say as a matter of law that the evidence cannot sustain the jury's conclusion that Harlan was a full-time employee. While the phrase in dispute can mean and usually does mean a person who is engaged at his given job for the full daily and weekly period which his duties require, it is not by any means restricted to that meaning alone. The phrase full-time employee may be used to distinguish a permanent employee

[ 388 Pa. Page 90]

    from a transitory or seasonal employee who is engaged to work only certain months of the year, on particular days of the week, or only a designated number of hours per day.

An employee may not actually appear on the premises of his employer for a protracted period of time and still be a full-time employee. Such would be true of one who is absent on account of illness, vacation, or for any reason which has the approval of the employer. The policy involved in this lawsuit specifically states that: "Temporary layoff or leave of absence shall not be considered termination of employment for the purpose of this insurance, unless the employer shall so elect."

Whether or not Harlan was a full-time employee in the meaning of the insurance policy was a question of fact for the jury to determine, and we are satisfied from a reading of the record that they were fully warranted in concluding that ...


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