Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in the case of Matilda Kurta v. Fashion Hosiery Shops, No. A-75149.
Linton L. Moyer, Thomson, Rhodes & Grigsby, for petitioner.
Samuel J. Goldstein, for respondent, Matilda Kurta.
Judges Rogers, Blatt and Williams, Jr., sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Williams, Jr.
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This is an appeal by employer Fashion Hosiery Shops (Fashion) from an order of the Workmen's
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Compensation Appeal Board (Board) that affirmed a referee's award of total disability compensation to claimant Matilda Kurta. The central issue is whether the place and occasion of the claimant's injury make it compensable under the "premises" provisions of Section 301(c) of The Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act.*fn1
Claimant Kurta was employed as manager and salesperson at Fashion's hosiery and lingerie shop on Fifth Avenue in McKeesport, Pennsylvania. The shop was located in leased space on the first floor of a multi-tenant commercial building situated on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Locust Street. There were several other stores on the first floor.
The building itself had two main, common entranceways, one on Fifth Avenue and the other on Locust Street. Those entrances gave access to the main first floor hallways. Fashion's first floor shop had its own separate front entrance, on Fifth Avenue, by which people could enter the shop directly from that street. However, the shop also had a rear door that allowed entry from one of the common hallways on the first floor of the building. That hallway and the rear door of Fashion's shop were accessible by entering the building through either of the two common entranceways.
On the morning of January 9, 1976, Matilda Kurta approached the building en route to work. She elected to use the common entrance on Locust Street, and had descended the two or three steps leading to that entrance. As she started across the terrazzo marble in front of the door she slipped and fell, due to the icy condition of the marble.
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The weather that morning was described by the claimant as being inclement. She stated there was much snow and ice, and that the temperature was below freezing. She also stated that she approached the building on its Locust Street side because of the location of her hairdresser, with whom she had an appointment earlier. According to the claimant, the terrazzo marble upon which she fell was "a sheet of ice."
As a result of her fall, the claimant sustained a subcapital fracture of the left femur; and the referee found that the injury rendered her totally disabled. The referee also found that the owner of the building, the lessor, was responsible for the care and maintenance of the area where the claimant's fall occurred. What is more significant for purposes of the instant case, is the referee's conclusion that the place of Kurta's fall made the injury compensable under the "premises" provisions of Section 301(c) of the Workmen's Compensation Act. When the Board affirmed the referee, Fashion appealed to this Court.
In contesting the award, Fashion's principal argument is that the claimant's injury did not occur on its "premises." In that regard Fashion asserts that it neither owned, leased, controlled, maintained nor used the entranceway where the claimant fell. Further, Fashion contends that the entranceway was not "provided" by it, was not the "usual" means of ingress to the shop, and was not an area the claimant had to cross to enter the shop. In sum, appellant Fashion argues that this case merely involves an "on-the-way-to-work" injury, and that such is not an injury arising in the course of employment under Section 301(c) of the Act.
Section 301(c) of the Workmen's Compensation Act, in defining the term "injury arising in the course of employment," provides in relevant part that the term:
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[S]hall include all injuries caused by the condition of the premises . . . , sustained by the employe, who, . . . 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 ...