UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
December 1, 1961
Paul M. RONEY
PAUL TISHMAIN CO., Inc.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: DUSEN
Defendant, on October 7, 1960, was doing construction work as a general contractor at Haverford Mental Health Center in Delaware County, Pa., under a contract it had entered into with the General State Authority. On that date, plaintiff, an employee of R. E. Carrick Company, a subcontractor of defendant, was injured in the course of his employment when a piece of lumber fell on his back.
The Complaint alleges that defendant committed an assault and battery upon plaintiff by 'having, causing, and/or permitting the piece of lumber * * * to fall * * *' (Document No. 1, par. 7). It further alleges that defendant, by deliberate intentional and willful acts, caused plaintiff's injury
and avers that defendant is liable for payment under a contract or agreement between it and the General State Authority, of which plaintiff is a third-party beneficiary.
Defendant's instant motion is based on the defense of its being plaintiff's 'statutory employer' under the applicable Pennsylvania law. The Complaint and the contracts of record (see Documents Nos. 1 and 6) clearly show that plaintiff was the employee of defendant's subcontractor when the injury occurred. The contract between plaintiff's employer and defendant specifically states that the subcontractor (plaintiff's employer) was responsible to furnish all the supervision and that it acted as an independent contractor and not as an agent or employee of defendant (see Exhibit 2 attached to Document No. 6). Under the facts of this case, plaintiff is limited to the compensation payable under the Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act
and may not maintain the present suit. See Kieffer v. Walsh Construction Co., 140 F.Supp. 318 (E.D.Pa.1956); Rivera v. Turner Construction Co., 135 F.Supp. 553 (E.D.Pa.1955); Sarne v. Baltimore & Ohio R.R. Co., 370 Pa. 82, 87 A.2d 264 (1952).
Plaintiff argues that the above-named Act is not applicable since he has alleged that an 'assault' was committed against him. Under Pennsylvania law, the 'statutory employer' provision of the Workmen's Compensation Act does not include intentional injury done for personal reasons, but does include all other injuries, including those caused by the conditions of the premises on which the injury occurred. Dolan v. Linton's Lunch, 397 Pa. 114, 152 A.2d 887 (1959). The record does not allege that the injury was caused for personal reasons. The bare allegation that an 'assault' was committed does not take the case out of the limitation imposed by the Workmen's Compensation Act. Plaintiff has not sustained his burden of showing that the Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act does not apply.
Also, plaintiff argues that this suit is based on the provisions of the contract between defendant and the General State Authority.
This contract does not prevent the operation of the Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act in this case. Said Act is specifically accepted by the defendant in the contract (see par. 11 thereof). Paragraph 18 of the contract refers to the contractor's responsibility for the work, which is to be done 'at his risk,' as against the responsibility of the General State Authority, which is to be indemnified from suits, actions or claims arising out of the work. The general statement in paragraph 18 that the defendant contractor shall be responsible for any damages to the public does not give this plaintiff any right to sue the contractor where the Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act specifically denies him such right.
See Mowrer v. Poirer & McLane Corp., 382 Pa. 2, 6-7, 114 A.2d 88 (1955).
The Complaint will, therefore, be dismissed.