decided: October 7, 1981.
MEREDITH M. NAUGLE, PETITIONER
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD AND PENN MACHINE COMPANY, RESPONDENTS
Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in the case of Meredith M. Naugle v. Penn Machine Company, No. A-77804.
Stephen L. Dugas, Glass, Glass & Dugas, for petitioner.
Joseph F. Grochmal, Fried, Kane, Walters & Zuschlag, for respondents.
President Judge Crumlish and Judges Craig and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig.
[ 62 Pa. Commw. Page 133]
In this workmen's compensation appeal, the claimant*fn1 questions a denial of compensation by the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, affirming the referee's decision that the claimant was not injured in the course of his employment.*fn2
[ 62 Pa. Commw. Page 134]
An employee of the Penn Machine Company (employer), the claimant was injured on February 23, 1979 when he slipped on ice, fell and broke his hip while walking to the plant after parking his car. The lot where the claimant was injured, located across a set of railroad tracks from the employer's property, was owned by U.S. Steel; the claimant and several other Penn Machine employees regularly preferred to park there, rather than to try finding a space in the lot provided by the employer or in the metered on-street parking near the plant.
The employer was aware of employee use of the lot, having posted a notice detailing complaints from U.S. Steel and the municipal authorities as to the employees' haphazard manner of parking.*fn3
[ 62 Pa. Commw. Page 135]
The employer presented testimony concerning the general availability of space in the employer's lot. The referee concluded that the claimant "was not injured by reason of the condition of or on the premises of the employer within the meaning of [the Act]." The board affirmed, holding the injury to be non-compensable because it occurred on property which the employer neither owned, operated nor controlled.
Because the claimant was not actually working at the time of his fall, his eligibility depends upon whether or not the incident occurred on the employer's premises.*fn4 Schofield v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, 39 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 282, 395 A.2d 328 (1978). That requirement was interpreted by the Supreme Court in Epler v. North American Rockwell Corp., 482 Pa. 391, 393 A.2d 1163 (1978) as embracing property that is so connected to the employer's business as to form a component or integral part of it, notwithstanding legal ownership by another party.
In Epler, the employee's widow was awarded compensation when her husband was struck by a car while
[ 62 Pa. Commw. Page 136]
walking to an employer-provided parking lot after work, even though the accident occurred on a public road bisecting the locations. The court noted that the critical factor was not the existence or absence of the employer's ownership or control over the area, but rather the fact that the employer "caused the [parking] area to be used by its employees in performance of their assigned tasks."*fn5 482 Pa. at 397, 393 A.2d at 1167.
That critical element is absent here. Although the employer was aware that some of its employees parked in the U.S. Steel lot, it did not require them to use that lot either directly or through failure to provide company-owned parking facilities.
The employer's posted notice, set forth in a footnote above, essentially constituted a communication relaying the complaints of others concerning the exercise of parking privileges those others had extended, rather than an assertion or assumption by the employer adopting the U.S. Steel lot as part of its own business complex.
The relationship between the employee's use of the lot and the employer's business operations is too tenuous to warrant characterization of the area as an integral part of the employer's premises.*fn6
[ 62 Pa. Commw. Page 137]
Consequently, we cannot hold as a matter of law that the claimant's injury falls within the scope of Section 301(c)(1), as an injury arising in the course of his employment.*fn7
We therefore affirm.
And Now, October 7, 1981, the order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board No. A-77804, dated October 23, 1980, affirming a referee's denial of compensation to claimant, is hereby affirmed.