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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. UNITED STATES STEEL CORPORATION (07/28/77)

decided: July 28, 1977.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD, AND MARY S. SLAUGENHAUPT, WIDOW OF DALE SLAUGENHAUPT, DECEASED
v.
UNITED STATES STEEL CORPORATION, APPELLANT



Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of Mary S. Slaugenhaupt, Widow of Dale Slaugenhaupt, Deceased v. United States Steel Corporation, No. A-70820.

COUNSEL

Richard F. Lerach, for appellant.

David B. Wasson, with him George, Wasson, Sekula, Kovalchick & Irwin, and James N. Diefenderfer, for appellees.

Judges Kramer, Rogers and Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers and Blatt. Opinion by Judge Rogers. Dissenting Opinion by Judge Blatt. President Judge Bowman and Judge Mencer join in this dissent.

Author: Rogers

[ 31 Pa. Commw. Page 331]

The United States Steel Corporation has appealed from an award of workmen's compensation benefits to the widow of a former employee.

The facts were stipulated. The claimant's deceased husband, Dale Slaugenhaupt, was afflicted with epilepsy, a fact known to his employer. On November 11, 1974, Mr. Slaugenhaupt suffered an epileptic seizure while operating his automobile in his employer's parking lot about forty five minutes before he was scheduled to commence work. As a result of the seizure, Mr. Slaugenhaupt lost control of the automobile which thereafter struck two parked vehicles, proceeded 200 feet to and through a chain link fence and over a walkway, and after traveling an additional 189 feet struck and came to rest against a concrete abutment on the employer's property. Mr. Slaugenhaupt died in the accident. His death was caused by blunt force injuries of the head and neck sustained in his automobile after it went out of control. The parties agreed that although the epileptic seizure caused the accident, Mr. Slaugenhaupt's death was "not immediately occasioned by the epilepsy itself, but by the traumatic injuries resulting from the force of the car striking the abutment."

We agree with the referee and the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board that Mr. Slaugenhaupt's death is compensable.

The issue is whether or not the injuries sustained by Mr. Slaugenhaupt and which caused his death are injuries as defined by Section 301(c)(1) of The Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act, P.L. 736, as amended, 77 P.S. § 411(1), which provides pertinently:

[ 31 Pa. Commw. Page 332]

The terms 'injury' and 'personal injury,' as used in this act, shall be construed to mean an injury to an employe, regardless of his previous physical condition, arising in the course of his employment and related thereto . . . and wherever death is mentioned as a cause for compensation under this act, it shall mean only death resulting from such injury and its resultant effects. . . . The term 'injury arising in the course of his employment,' as used in this article . . . shall include all . . . injuries sustained while the employe is actually engaged in the furtherance of the business or affairs of the employer, whether upon the employer's premises or elsewhere, and shall include all injuries caused by the condition of the premises or by the operation of the employer's business or affairs thereon, sustained by the employe, who, though not so engaged, is injured upon the premises occupied by or under the control of the employer, or upon which the employer's business or affairs are being carried on, the employe's presence thereon being required by the nature of his employment.

Section 301(c)(1) was amended to its present form by the Act of March 29, 1972, P.L. 159, § 7, effective May 1, 1972, and the Act of October 17, 1972, P.L. 930, § 2. See Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board v. Jeddo Highland Coal Company, 19 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 90, 338 A.2d 744 (1975). Case law, however, prior to the 1972 amendments and interpreting what constitutes course of employment remains applicable. North American Rockwell Corporation v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, 21 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. ...


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