Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of Dollie Moyer, widow of Richard Moyer, deceased v. Jones Motors, No. A-75409.
John R. Lenahan, Jr., Lenahan, Dempsey, Murphy & Piazza, for petitioner.
Frederick W. Alcaro, Krohn & Hoegen, for respondents.
Judges Mencer, Blatt and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Mencer.
[ 51 Pa. Commw. Page 211]
Section 307 of The Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act, Act of June 2, 1915, P.L. 736, as amended, 77 P.S. § 562, after directing the payment of benefits to widows, widowers and other dependents and the cessation of benefits to dependents who should remarry, provides:
Provided, however, That if, upon investigation and hearing, it shall be ascertained that the widow or widower is living with a man or woman, as the case may be, in meretricious relationship and not married, or the widow living a life of prostitution, the board may order the termination of compensation payable to such widow or widower. If the compensation payable under this section to any person shall, for any cause, cease, the compensation to the remaining persons entitled thereunder shall thereafter be the same as would have been payable to them had they been the only persons entitled to compensation at the time of the death of the deceased.
The present appeal raises the single issue as to whether the quoted portion of Section 307 and a finding
[ 51 Pa. Commw. Page 212]
that a widow entered into a meretricious relationship permits a suspension, in lieu of a complete and permanent cessation, of benefits where the meretricious relationship has ended.
The husband of Dollie Moyer (widow) was killed in a work-related accident, and she was receiving workmen's compensation death benefits for herself and on behalf of her minor daughter. On March 13, 1978, Jones Motors (employer) filed a petition for termination of the widow's compensation, in which it was alleged that Dollie Moyer was "living with a man, not her husband, in a meretricious relationship."
A referee, after hearing, concluded as a matter of law that the widow here had lived in a meretricious relationship with a man, not her husband, during the period of time from July 1, 1977 to June 1, 1978 but that she terminated the relationship as of June 2, 1978. Therefore, the referee recommended to the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board) that the widow's compensation payments be suspended for the period July 1, 1977 to June 1, 1978, inclusive, and be reinstated as of June 2, 1978. The Board, on March 29, 1979, adopted the recommendation of the referee and dismissed the appeal of the employer.
The Board stated that it was guided in reaching its decision by our case of Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board v. Worley, 23 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 357, 352 A.2d 240 (1976). In Worley, we held that a woman who lived with a man who was married to another woman, bore his child, rendered support to him, and received support from him was involved in a meretricious relationship and could be disqualified from ...