Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of Virginia E. Forrest, Widow of Louis, deceased v. Capitol International Airways, Inc. No. A-76873.
Martin J. Fallon, Jr., Swartz, Campbell & Detweiler, for petitioner.
Bruce E. Cooper, for respondent, Virginia E. Forrest.
Judges Mencer, Craig and Palladino, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Palladino. Judge Wilkinson, Jr. did not participate in the decision in this case. Judge Craig dissents.
[ 58 Pa. Commw. Page 552]
Capitol International Airways, Inc. (Capitol), appeals from an order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board) which deleted a referee's order denying continued payment of death benefits to Respondent, the widow of a former Capitol flight engineer (Engineer). We reverse the Board's order.
[ 58 Pa. Commw. Page 553]
During a three-day layover in Spain after an overseas flight, Engineer died as the result of a fall. Engineer's body was found outside a hotel which was not the hotel where Capitol had provided lodging for Engineer. Pursuant to The Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act (Act), Act of June 2, 1915, P.L. 736, as amended, 77 P.S. § 1 et seq., Capitol and Respondent entered into a compensation agreement under Section 413*fn1 of the Act, 77 P.S. § 771. Based upon evidence obtained at a hearing, a referee determined that Respondent was not entitled to benefits because Engineer did not die in the course of his employment with Capitol. On appeal, the Board deleted the referee's order and dismissed Capitol's petition because the Board reasoned that the record did not support the referee's factual findings and legal conclusions.
This Court has repeatedly held that "the course of employment of a traveling worker is necessarily broader than that of an ordinary employe. . . ." Schreckengost v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, 43 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 587, 591, 403 A.2d 165, 167 (1979) (citation omitted) (quoting Aluminum Co. of America v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, 33 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 33, 36, 380 A.2d 941, 943 (1977)). Moreover, "when an employee sets out upon the business of his employer and is later fatally injured, there is a presumption that the employee was engaged in the furtherance of his employer's business at the time of his death. . . ." Id. at 591, 403 A.2d at 167 (citation omitted) (quoting Aluminum Co. of America v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, 33 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 33, 36, 380 A.2d 941, 943 (1977)). To be denied compensation, an employee must have "'virtually abandoned the course of his
[ 58 Pa. Commw. Page 554]
employment, or . . . at the time of the accident [injury], [be] engaged in something wholly foreign thereto. . . .'" Universal Cyclops Steel Corp. v. Krawczynski, 9 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 176, 187, 305 A.2d 757, 764 (1973) (emphasis in original) (quoting Adams v. Colonial Colliery Co., 104 Pa. Superior Ct. 187, 190, 158 A. 183, 184 (1932)).
Despite these presumptions favoring traveling employees, the plain meaning and clear language of Section 301(c)(1) of the Act, 77 P.S. § 411, cannot be ignored. Under Section 301(c)(1) of the Act, death resulting from an injury is compensable if the injury arises in the course of employment and is related thereto. Halaski v. Hilton Hotel, 487 Pa. 313, 409 A.2d 367 (1979). "[I]njury arising in the course of . . . employment . . . shall include . . . injuries sustained while the employe is actually engaged in the furtherance of the business or affairs of the employer. . . ." Section 301(c)(1) of the Act (emphasis added).
"The general rule is that off-premises injuries which do not arise while the employee is actually engaged in the furtherance of the employer's business activities are not compensable." Harris v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, 51 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 470, 473, 414 A.2d 765, 767 (1980); Giebel v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, 41 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 333, 399 A.2d 152 (1979). To receive benefits, "an employee must be furthering the business of his employer in a manner consistent with his contract of employment and reasonably related thereto at the time of his injury or death." Bethlehem Steel Corp. v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, 56 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 438, 444, 425 A.2d 473, 476 (1981) (594 C.D. 1980; ...