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CITY PHILADELPHIA v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (10/27/80)

decided: October 27, 1980.

CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD AND NELLIE JOHNSON, RESPONDENTS



Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of Nellie Johnson v. City of Philadelphia, No. A-75889.

COUNSEL

Gayle R. Smith, Assistant City Solicitor, with her Sheldon L. Albert, City Solicitor, James M. Penny, Jr., Deputy City Solicitor, and Ralph J. Teti, for petitioner.

Robert P. DiMenicus, for respondent, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Michael J. Pepe, Jr., for respondent, Nellie Johnson.

Judges Blatt, Craig and Williams, Jr., sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Williams, Jr.

Author: Williams

[ 54 Pa. Commw. Page 371]

The City of Philadelphia (City) has filed a petition for review urging us to reverse an order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board) affirming a referee's award of compensation to respondent Nellie Johnson (claimant).

On December 1, 1976, the claimant was a member of the Wissinoming First Aid Corps, a volunteer ambulance organization. On that date she sustained injuries as a result of tripping on an unsecured rug while wheeling a patient into the emergency entrance of Frankford Hospital in Philadelphia. It is undisputed in this case that the claimant's injuries occurred in the course of performing gratuitous services with the ambulance corps and that as a result of the injuries she was unable to return to her duties with the ambulance corps until February 6, 1977.

For the approximately nine-week period of the claimant's injury, the referee awarded her compensation at the rate of $124.67 per week, together with a reimbursement of medical and hospital expenses. When the City's appeal to the Board was dismissed, a further appeal to this Court followed.

[ 54 Pa. Commw. Page 372]

Of course, our scope of review in a workmen's compensation case is restricted to a determination of whether constitutional rights have been violated, an error of law committed, or whether any necessary finding of fact was unsupported by substantial evidence. E.g., North American Coal Corp. v. Workmen's Page 372} Compensation Appeal Board, 39 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 482, 395 A.2d 1030 (1979); Universal Cyclops Steel Corp. v. Krawczynski, 9 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 176, 305 A.2d 757 (1973).

The City's pivotal contention is that the Board committed an error of law in concluding that the claimant was a statutory employee of the City for purposes of coverage under The Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act.*fn1 In denying that the claimant was a statutory employee, the City emphasizes that it has not authorized any of the activities of the Wissinoming First Aid Corps, has not exercised any control over the organization or extended any recognition to it.

The central legal issue of this case, as posed by the City's contention, is generated by the "new" Section 601 of The Workmen's Compensation Act.*fn2 ...


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