Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of Joseph C. Taylor v. Ingersoll Rand Company, No. A-66254.
Maurice L. Epstein, for appellants.
M. J. DeSisti, for appellees.
Judges Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr. and Rogers, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Kramer.
[ 12 Pa. Commw. Page 503]
This is an appeal filed by Ingersoll-Rand Company (Ingersoll-Rand) from an order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board) dated July 19, 1973, in which the Board affirmed the referee's findings and conclusions, which adjudication awarded workmen's compensation benefits to Joseph C. Taylor (Taylor).
Taylor had been an assembly worker for Ingersoll-Rand for approximately 16 years. On January 21, 1971, after Taylor had parked his automobile in Ingersoll-Rand's parking lot, which is located across the street from the plant, he slipped and fell within said parking lot on ice covered by snow sustaining injuries to his
[ 12 Pa. Commw. Page 504]
back. Although the record is filled with evidence concerning Taylor's work and the injuries he sustained, the pertinent facts upon which this case turns are contained in a stipulation set forth by counsel for Ingersoll-Rand in the record which reads as follows: "I said this was a parking lot under the control of Ingersoll-Rand for the use and benefit of its employes ; that he parked his car there at 6:45 on the morning of January 21, 1971 prior to his normal shift which began on that particular day at 7 a.m.; that he crossed the public thoroughfare, namely, Pennsylvania Avenue before he gained entrance to his actual place of employment at the Ingersoll Rand plant." (Emphasis added.) The record also indicates that Taylor used this parking lot each working day for the many years he worked for Ingersoll-Rand.
The law is clear that an employe may recover workmen's compensation benefits for disability resulting from an injury sustained on the employer's "premises." The sole and very narrow issue presented to this Court is whether an injury sustained by an employe on a parking lot owned by the employer, but separated from the employer's actual business operation or plant by a public thoroughfare or street has occurred on the employer's "premises." Since all of the facts are agreed to by the parties, the issue becomes a question of law. As was stated in Shaffer v. Somerset Community Hospital, 205 Pa. Superior Ct. 419, 421, 211 A.2d 49, 50 (1965): "Whether the ground on which the claimant stepped from her automobile was a part of the employer's premises and whether claimant was injured in the course of her employment, are questions of law and subject to judicial review. . . ." In Shaffer, supra, the court noted that the claimant, a hospital worker, slipped on ice in the parking lot of the hospital which was adjacent to the hospital building. The court there was also faced with the question of whether a parking lot was a part of the
[ 12 Pa. Commw. Page 505]
premises of the hospital. The Shaffer court acknowledged that it had held in Young v. Hamilton Watch Co., 158 Pa. Superior Ct. 448, 45 A.2d 261 (1946) that a parking lot which was separated from the employer's plant by a public highway was not part of the employer's premises. The Shaffer court discounted its prior ruling with the following statement: "In determining the instant appeal, we may not close our eyes to the needs of present day society. The automobile has become the universal means of transportation. A hospital must of necessity have a parking lot. Its presence is essential to the doctors and to the hospital personnel, frequently called under emergency conditions. In the case at bar, the parking lot was clearly an integral part of the hospital premises. We perceive no merit in the argument of the insurance carrier that claimant did not have any duties to perform on the parking lot. She was on the premises of her employer when she was injured, and the Board so found. The fact that her actual duties were in the hospital building itself does not affect her right to compensation." 205 Pa. Superior Ct. at 422, 211 A.2d at 50. It is interesting to note that in Hesselman v. Somerset Community Hospital, 203 Pa. Superior Ct. 313, 201 A.2d 302 (1964), our Superior Court held that where the worker, while still physically on a public thoroughfare but attempting to gain admission to his hospital employer's laundry building, was on the premises of his employer for the purposes of the workmen's compensation law.
The effective workmen's compensation statutory provision is found in the Workmen's Compensation Act, Act of June 2, 1915, P.L. 736, § 301, as amended, 77 P.S. § 411, wherein it is stated in pertinent part: "The term 'injury by an accident in the course of his employment,' as used in this article . . . shall include all injuries caused by the ...