No. 81-1-33, Appeal from the Order of the Superior Court at No. 972 April Term 1979, affirming the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Civil Division, at No. GD 77-01375.
Wendell G. Freeland, Craig A. McClean, Nicholas R. Stone, Freeland & Kronz, Pittsburgh, for appellant.
Robert A. Nedwick, Spencer D. Hirshberg, Meyer, Darragh, Buckler, Bebenek & Eck, Pittsburgh, for appellee.
O'Brien, C. J., and Roberts, Nix, Larsen, Flaherty, Kauffman and Wilkinson, JJ. Roberts, J., filed a concurring opinion in which O'Brien, C. J., and Larsen and Flaherty, JJ., joined. Kauffman and Wilkinson, JJ., did not participate in the decision of this case.
Appellant was employed as an operating room technician by appellee, Presbyterian University Hospital. On May 27, 1975 during her working hours, Ms. Tatrai became ill and was directed by her supervisor to go to the emergency room of the hospital to seek medical attention. After reporting to the emergency room, she was placed on an x-ray table. While this table was being rotated to an upright position, the foot stand became loose and/or broke away causing Ms. Tatrai to fall from the table and to be injured. Appellant commenced this action in trespass and assumpsit against Presbyterian Hospital alleging negligence and a breach of warranty of the safety of appellee's equipment and services. The Court of Common Pleas entered a verdict for the hospital finding that the Workmen's Compensation Act (Act), Act of June 2, 1915, as amended, December 5, 1974, P.L. 782, No. 263, 77 P.S. § 481 provides an exclusive remedy and therefore bars appellant's action. The lower court found that the medical treatment given to appellant was provided to her as an employee in the normal course of her employment, and further held that her presence in the emergency department was required. The Superior Court affirmed the action of the Court of Common Pleas, 284 Pa. Super. 300, 425 A.2d 823. The issue presented in this appeal is whether Presbyterian University Hospital, appellee, may effectively defend a common law action for alleged negligence causing injury to one of its employees by virtue of the exclusivity provision of Section 303 of the Act. 77 P.S. § 481(a) (Supp. 1981-82). For the following reasons we
disagree with the Superior Court and hold that appellant herein was entitled to institute suit against appellee.
Section 303(a) provides that in return for the benefit of strict liability the employee receives under the Act, the employee surrenders his or her rights to any form of compensation for any injury occurring in the course of employment other than that provided under the terms of the Act.*fn1 Here there is no question that appellee was an employee at the time of the alleged injury. The disputed question is whether the injury occurred in the course of the employment. The employer's claimed immunity to the negligence action instituted by appellant is dependent upon a finding that this injury occurred during the course of the appellant's employment.
Section 301(c)(1) defines an injury arising in the course of employment as follows:
As amended March 29, 1972, P.L. 159, No. 61, § 7, ...