Appeals from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of Rose Marie McLaughlin, Mother of Mabel Louise McLaughlin, deceased, v. Cleland Simpson Company, No. A-67385.
Robert H. Sayers, with him Van Deusen & Van Deusen, for Cleland Simpson Company and Pennsylvania Manufacturers' Association Insurance Company.
Richard Lovelle, with him Peter T. O'Malley and O'Malley and McHale, for Rose Marie McLaughlin.
Judges Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr. and Rogers, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Kramer.
[ 16 Pa. Commw. Page 567]
This opinion involves two separate appeals filed from an adjudication of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board) dated February 21, 1974, in which the Board affirmed the decision of a referee (dated June 15, 1973) awarding workmen's compensation benefits to Rose Marie McLaughlin (Claimant). Claimant is the mother of Mabel Louise McLaughlin, deceased, an employe of Cleland Simpson Company (Cleland), which operated a retail department store known as The Globe Store, located in Scranton, Pennsylvania. The Board in its adjudication amended the amount of the award as will be hereinafter described.
The events leading to the claim are both tragic and bizarre. For approximately five weeks Mabel Louise
[ 16 Pa. Commw. Page 568]
McLaughlin, known as Debbie, worked as a sales clerk at The Globe Store. She had moved from her family home in the State of Indiana to Scranton to live with her godparents. In her home state, she had attended a state teachers' college for one semester. She had worked for a telephone company in Indiana for about 15 weeks. At the time of her death she was 19 years of age and without a blemish to her reputation or work record. During the same period in which she worked at The Globe, David Evans, a 22 year old psychotic, also worked at The Globe, as a stock clerk. Apparently under the delusions which he suffered, David Evans believed he had made dates with Debbie, which she had failed to keep. As a result of his psychotic decompensated state (paranoid schizophrenia), on October 18, 1968, while Debbie was working behind a sales counter at The Globe Store, David Evans, without provocation, attacked Debbie and stabbed her 13 times about the upper portions of her body, in full view of customers and other employes. Debbie was rushed to a hospital where she was pronounced dead about one hour later. Evans fled the scene of the attack, was eventually captured, charged with murder, and, after a psychiatric examination, committed to a hospital for the criminally insane.
The Claimant filed a fatal claim petition. Cleland denied the claim on the basis that Debbie had been murdered by a fellow employe because of personal reasons and not because of her status as an employe or because of the fact of her employment, and, therefore, the death was not compensable under the Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act (Act), Act of June 21, 1939, P.L. 520, as amended, 77 P.S. § 1 et seq. After extensive hearings, the referee issued his adjudication, which contains one of the most comprehensive sets of findings of fact we have ever reviewed in a workmen's compensation case. The referee awarded compensation to the Claimant in the amount of $16 per week from October
[ 16 Pa. Commw. Page 56919]
, 1968 through the lifetime of the Claimant, together with the usual provisions for hospital and funeral bills. Cleland appealed to the Board on the same issue it raised before the referee. The Claimant appealed to the Board alleging that the referee had erred in computing the amount of the award. The Board affirmed all of the findings of the referee, but amended the amount of the award to $18.41 per week on the basis of its computation of the pay records of Debbie with Cleland, and the Board's interpretation of the Act.
At case No. 316 C.D. 1974, Cleland appealed to this Court, once again contending that Debbie's death was not compensable because her murder was the result of things personal to David Evans, and therefore not within the scope of her employment. At case No. 321 C.D. 1974, Claimant appealed, contending that the amount of the award, as increased, was not correct in that the Board had failed to recognize ...