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BAYLESS v. PHILADELPHIA NATL. LEAGUE CLUB

May 22, 1979

Patrick B. BAYLESS
v.
PHILADELPHIA NATIONAL LEAGUE CLUB, a/k/a the Philadelphia Phillies



The opinion of the court was delivered by: MCGLYNN

MEMORANDUM OF DECISION

Plaintiff, Patrick B. Bayless, brought this action against the Philadelphia Phillies National League Baseball Club for personal injuries suffered while employed as a professional baseball pitcher in the Phillies minor league farm system. The complaint asserts jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332.

 Initially, defendant moved for summary judgment contending that plaintiff's claims were barred by both the applicable Pennsylvania Statute of Limitations for personal injuries and the Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act. I granted defendant's motion and entered judgment in favor of defendant holding that plaintiff's back injury and mental illness claims were barred by the statute of limitations, without reaching the Workmen's Compensation Act defense. On appeal, the Court of Appeals held that an issue of material fact precluded the entry of summary judgment in favor of defendant on the Statute of Limitations defense. The applicability of the Workmen's Compensation Act was not decided. Bayless v. Philadelphia National League Club, 579 F.2d 37 (3rd Cir. 1978). Defendant has now renewed its motion for summary judgment contending that plaintiff's exclusive remedy is the Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act.

 The basic facts are spelled out in my prior memorandum, Bayless v. Phila. Nat'l League Club, C.A. No. 76-3221 (E.D.Pa. June 21, 1977), and in the opinion of the Court of Appeals, Supra, and only facts which are necessary to a complete understanding of the issues raised by the motion under consideration will be added.

 As noted by the Court of Appeals, plaintiff has abandoned any claims based on the physical injury to his back. Thus, the sole remaining claim is for the mental illness which he suffered.

 Plaintiff claims his mental illness was caused by the administration of drugs following complaints of severe back pain. (Complaint P 7-8). At the time the drugs were administered, plaintiff was in defendant's employ (Complaint P 4-8) and under the care of a team trainer and physician supplied by defendant (Complaint P 7). More specifically, plaintiff attributes the mental illness to the fact that "Defendant had . . . a contractual duty to plaintiff to provide him with good sound medical care in the event Plaintiff's skills were being impaired by injury, illness or disease and Defendant failed to provide such care". (Complaint P 15(b)-(c)). Plaintiff further claims a failure of defendant to provide proper medical care in the administration of drugs, (Complaint P 18), and the failure of defendant to obtain plaintiff's informed consent to medical treatment. (Complaint P 19).

 By virtue of the Act, an employee's common law right to damages for injuries suffered in the course of his employment as a result of his employer's negligence is completely surrendered in exchange for the exclusive statutory right of the employee to compensation for all such injuries, and the employer's liability as a tortfeasor is abrogated. *fn1" Socha v. Metz, supra, 385 Pa. at 637, 123 A.2d 837.

 To come within the purview of the Act, there must be both an accident in the course of employment and an injury. See Act of June 2, 1915, P.L. 736, art. III, § 301(a), as amended, 77 P.S. § 431; *fn2" Hinkle v. H. J. Heinz Company, 462 Pa. 111, 337 A.2d 907 (1975). Given the circumstances here, whether an accident has occurred is a matter of law for the court to decide. Pages Department Store v. Velardi, 464 Pa. 276, 346 A.2d 556, 561 (1975).

 In Baur v. Mesta Machine Co., 393 Pa. 380, 143 A.2d 12 (1958), the Pennsylvania Supreme Court specifically held that injuries resulting from an employer's failure to provide proper medical treatment are compensable under the Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act. In Baur, the widow of a deceased employee instituted an action in trespass against the employer. As related by the Court, the employee, while at work, became bothered by a pain in the arm and chest, an illness not alleged to have been brought about by any unusual physical exertion or mishap, and therefore not itself compensable. Id. at 382, 143 A.2d 12. The employee then reported to the employer-provided dispensary, where he failed to receive proper medical treatment. The lower court sustained the employer's preliminary objections and dismissed the complaint on the ground that the Workmen's Compensation Act provided the exclusive remedy available to the plaintiff. On appeal, the plaintiff contended that since the employee's death was not the result of an "accident", the Act was inapplicable and the common law cause of action against the employer for the failure to provide proper medical care was the proper remedy.

 The Court acknowledged the distinction between those cases in which the failure to provide proper medical treatment occurred subsequent to the infliction of a compensable injury and the facts in Baur, but, nevertheless, held that injuries caused by the failure to provide proper medical treatment for a non-compensable illness are themselves compensable under the Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act. Id. at 385, 143 A.2d 12.

 In Warr v. Dick Bros., Inc., 6 D&C 288 (1923), and Leonard v. Fox, 27 D&C 475 (1936), where employees mistakenly drank substances which they believed would alleviate their sickness but which actually proved harmful, recovery under the Act was permitted. The Baur plaintiff attempted to distinguish Warr and Leonard on the ground that those cases involved injuries caused by a sudden positive act, while Baur involved death caused by a failure to act, without any sudden physical violence. 393 Pa. at 384, 143 A.2d 12. The Court, however, refused to recognize such a distinction and deemed the principle of Warr and Leonard, which involved inadequate treatment of non-compensable illnesses, to be controlling. Id.

 The failure to provide proper medical treatment was held to constitute an "accident" bringing the Act into operation:

 
"When decedent became ill he proceeded, as directed by his employer, to the dispensary provided for such contingencies. Due to the failure of the attendant to provide adequate medical care, his death resulted a short time later. Certainly, the death was unexpected and unforeseen and not in the usual course of events. To decide otherwise would require us to believe that proper treatment was intentionally withheld. Nor are we able to distinguish the present ...

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