Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of Elizabeth J. Abrams, w/o Nicholas v. Macke Vending Company, No. A-70781.
Joseph A. Murphy, with him John R. Lenahan, Sr., John R. Lenahan, Jr., and Lenahan, Dempsey & Murphy, for appellant.
M. J. DeSisti, with him David B. Keeffe, DeSisti and Keeffe, and James N. Diefenderfer, for appellees.
Judges Mencer, Rogers and Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Rogers.
[ 27 Pa. Commw. Page 491]
This is an appeal from the decision of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board affirming the decision of the Referee which awarded benefits to the claimant for the death of her husband, Nicholas Abrams, who was killed at 1:00 A.M. on June 14, 1974 in an automobile accident while traveling in a car driven by co-employee, Ronald E. Burnett. The decedent, whose usual place of employment was in Athens, Pennsylvania, was directed by the Macke Vending Company to attend an employee meeting on June 13, 1974 in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. The decedent made the trip with Mr. Burnett and another
[ 27 Pa. Commw. Page 492]
employee, Richard E. Sine, and arrived in Williamsport at approximately 4:00 P.M. on that date. The decedent attended the meeting as well as a dinner provided by the employer at the local V.F.W. After the dinner the decedent and his co-employees visited a friend near Williamsport and stayed until approximately 11:30 P.M. when they departed Williamsport for the trip home which proved fatal to Mr. Abrams.
The employer maintains that the decedent, when killed, had departed his employment, was engaged in the furtherance of his own affairs and pleasure and had not reentered the duties of employment. The issue here is:
whether [the decedent's] death was 'sustained while the employee is actually engaged in the furtherance of the business or affairs of the employer. . . .' The Workmen's Compensation Act, Act of June 2, 1915, P.L. 736, as amended, 77 P.S. § 411. This issue is one of law to be determined on the facts found by the compensation authorities. Farrell v. The House of Seagram, Inc., 8 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 69, 301 A.2d 121 (1973); Henry v. Lit Brothers, Inc., 193 Pa. Superior Ct. 543, 165 A.2d 406 (1960). The phrase 'actually engaged in the furtherance of business or affairs of the employer' (usually expressed in the more restrictive term 'in the course of employment') must be given a liberal construction, and the evidence must be viewed in the light most favorable to the claimant who has the Board's decision. Maher v. Hallmark Cards, Inc., 207 Pa. Superior Ct. 472, 218 A.2d 593 (1966).
Feaster v. S. K. Kelso & Sons, 22 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 20, 23, 347 A.2d 521, 523 (1975).
In Feaster, supra, compensation was awarded where the workman was drowned at a company picnic at which his presence was voluntary and which he was not paid for ...