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SHIRLEY KELLER v. OLD LYCOMING TOWNSHIP (04/20/81)

filed: April 20, 1981.

SHIRLEY KELLER, EXECUTRIX OF THE ESTATE OF HAROLD KELLER, DECEASED, APPELLANT,
v.
OLD LYCOMING TOWNSHIP, APPELLEE



No. 350 Philadelphia 1980, Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lycoming County, Civil Action Law at No. 76 - 3264.

COUNSEL

Clifford A. Rieders, Williamsport, for appellant.

Richard A. Gray, Williamsport, for appellee.

Spaeth, Hester and Cavanaugh, JJ.

Author: Spaeth

[ 286 Pa. Super. Page 342]

This is an appeal from an order granting summary judgment in favor of Old Lycoming Township and against Shirley Keller, executrix of the estate of Harold Keller, deceased. Keller died on September 15, 1975, as a result of injuries sustained when a ditch he was excavating collapsed. At the time of his death, he was working in a program created under the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA).*fn1 His executrix brought wrongful death and survival actions against the township. The township moved for summary judgment on the theory that it was Keller's employer and thereby immune under the Workmen's Compensation Act.*fn2 Keller's executrix argued that the township was not Keller's employer, but rather that an organization known as "Service, Training and Education Programs"

[ 286 Pa. Super. Page 343]

(STEP) was.*fn3 The lower court concluded that by virtue of the borrowed servant doctrine,*fn4 the township, and not STEP, was Keller's employer. We agree with this conclusion, and shall therefore affirm.

Congress enacted the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act to

     provide job training and employment opportunities for the economically disadvantaged, unemployed, and underemployed persons, and to assure that training and other services lead to maximum employment opportunities and enhance self sufficiency by enhancing a flexible and decentralized system of Federal, State and local programs. 29 U.S.C. § 801.

To accomplish these purposes, the Act allows the Secretary of Labor to make financial assistance available to "prime sponsors,"*fn5 so that they may "carry out all or a substantial

[ 286 Pa. Super. Page 344]

    part of a comprehensive manpower program." 29 U.S.C. § 812. The prime sponsor in the Old Lycoming Township area was the Lycoming and Clinton Consortium. The consortium subcontracted with STEP to administer certain aspects of the CETA program. See N.T. Michael Wilt at 4; N.T. Richard Hritzko at 3-4. STEP acted as an employment office. R. 108a-110a. It enrolled qualified applicants in the CETA program and referred them to potential employers. If the applicants were hired, STEP paid their wages and their workmen's compensation and medical insurance from CETA funds. R. 53a, 55a, 101-103a. CETA workers were ...


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