Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of Alvenia M. Neyer, Widow of Russell L. Neyer, deceased, v. Panther Valley School District, No. A-66530.
John R. Lenahan, with him Joseph A. Murphy and Lenahan, Dempsey & McDonald, for appellants.
John M. Yarema, with him Martin H. Philip, for appellee, Neyer.
Judges Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer and Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Mencer.
[ 13 Pa. Commw. Page 180]
Russell L. Neyer (Neyer), at the time of his death on October 24, 1971, was employed by the Panther Valley School District (School District) as a custodian assigned to look after the school's athletic field and stadium. He had worked for the School District approximately 29 years and had taken care of the stadium for more than 20 years.
His duties at the stadium included keeping the grass mowed, sweeping out the dressing rooms, cleaning the rest rooms, and general maintenance. On those days when football games were scheduled at the stadium, he was required to set up the amplifying system, place markers on the field, open the gates, turn on the lights, unlock doors, and be in attendance at the game. Following the game -- usually the next day, as most games were played in the evening -- he was required to clean the stadium, a task which included sweeping up all the rubbish from under the bleachers and the grandstand. The Panther Valley football stadium could accommodate 3200 persons, and Neyer would often arrange to have someone assist him in his after-game cleanup responsibilities.
From April to November each year Neyer would work at the stadium from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. except on days when a football game would be played, on which days he would return to the stadium for the period of 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. From December until April he would work an 8-hour day shift during 5 days each week at the high school building.
Panther Valley High School usually played its home football games on Saturday evening, and Neyer would go to the stadium on Sunday morning after each Saturday evening home game to fulfill his cleanup duties. It was not unusual to have more than one game played at the stadium during any given weekend since it served as the home field for the Marian High School football
[ 13 Pa. Commw. Page 181]
team as well as the Panther Valley Freshman, Panther Valley Junior Varsity, and Panther Valley Varsity football teams.
During the weekend in question, the Marian High School team played at the stadium on Friday evening, October 22, 1971, and the Panther Valley Freshmen played there on Saturday morning, October 23, 1971. The record is unclear as to whether there was a game played in the stadium on Saturday evening, October 23, 1971. The Director of Athletics for the School District testified that a game had been scheduled for that evening but had been postponed until Monday evening. The Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board), in its opinion, states that the "Saturday night game was postponed to Monday." However, Mark McHugh, who often helped Neyer clean the stadium after games, testified that he had attended the game on Saturday evening, October 23, 1971, and had seen Neyer in attendance at the game. Neyer's wife testified that she thought her husband had gone back to work on Saturday evening, October 23, 1971, and returned home at 10 p.m. after the football game. The referee made no finding on this important fact.
However, it is undisputed that Neyer left home at 6:45 a.m. on Sunday morning, October 24, 1971, and went to the stadium to clean up debris from the Saturday morning game that was played or, perhaps, debris from both of the Saturday games if, in fact, there was a Saturday evening game played. Also, it is undisputed that Neyer's helper, Mark McHugh, arrived at the stadium at 7:45 a.m. on Sunday morning and found Neyer sweeping the stands. Upon McHugh's arrival, Neyer stated that he "didn't feel good" and McHugh told him to take a little rest. Neyer at first sat down on the ...