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PIERRE REASNER AND PENNSYLVANIA NATIONAL MUTUAL CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (06/23/78)

decided: June 23, 1978.

PIERRE REASNER AND PENNSYLVANIA NATIONAL MUTUAL CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY, PETITIONERS
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD AND RAYMOND C. BELTZ, JR., RESPONDENTS



Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of Raymond C. Beltz, Jr. v. Pierre Reasner, No. A-71775.

COUNSEL

George F. Douglas, Jr., for petitioners.

Kenneth E. Hankins, Jr., with him James N. Diefenderfer, for respondents.

Judges Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer and Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Mencer.

Author: Mencer

[ 36 Pa. Commw. Page 293]

Pierre Reasner and his workmen's compensation insurance carrier appeal from a decision of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board) finding that Raymond C. Beltz (claimant) was Reasner's employee at the time he was injured. We affirm the Board's award of benefits.

Reasner is the owner-operator of a logging business. Prior to the date of his injury, claimant had never worked for Reasner. Claimant's brother Jay had occasionally worked for Reasner when there was no work available in his regular occupation as a truck driver. On the morning of August 1, 1974, Jay telephoned Reasner to see whether there was work available for him that day. He was informed by Reasner's wife that, although work was available, Reasner was

[ 36 Pa. Commw. Page 294]

    going to be out of town and did not want Jay working in the woods alone. Mrs. Reasner told Jay he could work if he brought someone else along who would be able to summon help if Jay were injured.

Shortly thereafter, Jay and the claimant arrived at Reasner's home where a discussion with Reasner and his wife ensued. The crucial aspects of this conversation are disputed. According to claimant and his brother, Reasner addressed both of them and gave them his instructions on the work to be done that day. According to Reasner and his wife, however, these instructions were addressed only to Jay, and claimant was expressly told he was going along only as a watchman for the benefit of his brother and was not to touch any of Reasner's equipment. It is undisputed there was no discussion of wages.

Claimant and his brother then proceeded to the working area in a vehicle supplied by Reasner. Jay showed claimant how to operate Reasner's timberjack, a four-wheel vehicle used to drag logs. When claimant attempted to operate the machine, he lost control of it and severly injured his leg. His subsequent claim for workmen's compensation benefits was heard by a referee who allowed benefits. On appeal, this decision was affirmed by the Board.

The major issue in this case is whether or not claimant was Reasner's employee. Section 104 of The Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act, Act of June 2, 1915, P.L. 736, as amended, 77 P.S. ยง 22, adopts the common law concept of "servant" as part of the statutory definition of "employe." The common law elements of a master-servant relationship are (1) a contract of employment for wages, express or implied, Harris v. Seiavitch, 336 Pa. 294, 9 A.2d ...


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