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ANNABELLE E. CARL v. WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD (G.H. DELP COMPANY) (01/04/84)

COMMONWEALTH COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA


decided: January 4, 1984.

ANNABELLE E. CARL, PETITIONER
v.
WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD (G.H. DELP COMPANY), RESPONDENTS

Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in the case of Annabelle E. Carl v. G.H. Delp Company, No. A-82252.

COUNSEL

Joseph A. Zane, Zane and Zane, P.C. for petitioner.

Frank L. Tamulonis, Jr., Zimmerman, Lieberman & Derenzo, for respondent, G.H. Delp Company.

Judges MacPhail, Doyle and Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Barbieri. Judge John A. MacPhail dissents.

Author: Barbieri

[ 79 Pa. Commw. Page 333]

Claimant in this workmen's compensation case, Annabelle E. Carl, appeals here from an order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board disallowing compensation on the basis of findings by a compensation referee. We will reverse and remand.

The uncontradicted testimony in this case establishes that Claimant, a computer operator, suffered the rupture of a cerebral aneurysm as a result of physical exertion while pushing the car of a fellow employee in the snow on January 20, 1978. She has not returned to work since, and the employer has hired another to take her place, thereby denying her request

[ 79 Pa. Commw. Page 334]

    for reemployment, among her efforts to attempt return to employment.

Following her injury on January 20, 1978, she was hospitalized and, on February 9, 1978, surgery was performed, consisting of a right frontal temporal craniotomy. The hemorrhaging which took place before surgery was from a middle cerebral artery in a surgically difficult area of the brain and was such that the normal stripping of the aneurysm could not be performed, so that the bleeding was stopped by inserting "a piece of muscle around the aneurysm." There was conflicting testimony on when she would be able to return to work, her employment being somewhat sedentary, but it is uncontradicted that she was unable to perform any form of gainful occupation at least until June 13, 1978. Claimant continues to be treated for disorders from which she still complains, such as dizziness, vertigo, headaches, weakness, nervousness and "ringing of the ears." She is, however, willing to work but has been unable to find suitable employment. The central issue before us, as it was before the referee and the Board, is whether the place and the occasion of the claimant's injury made it compensable under the provisions of Section 301(c) of The Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act.*fn1 Section 301(c) defines the phrase "injury arising in the course of employment," to

     include all . . . injuries sustained while the employe is actually engaged in the furtherance of the business or affairs of the employer, whether upon the employer's premises or elsewhere, and shall include all injuries caused by the condition of the premises or by the operation of the employer's business or affairs thereon, sustained by the employe, who, though not so engaged, is

[ 79 Pa. Commw. Page 335]

    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 employee's presence thereon being required by the nature of his employment.

The occasion for exertion which caused Claimant's injury was a heavy snowfall described as twelve inches of snow, which led to an early termination of work at 1:00 P.M. Claimant's car and that of a fellow worker, Roseann Callaghan, were parked in an authorized spot, designated as Parking Lot B. Although there is some confusion in the testimony as to whether or not another parking lot, Parking Lot A, "was the designated" parking lot, the lease and other circumstances in the case, including the fact that claimant's superior also was parked in Parking Lot B, all establish that claimant and her fellow employee, Roseann Callaghan, had parked their cars in an authorized parking lot. The lease contains the following provision:

Lessor grants to Lessee [employer] for the benefit of Lessee's, officers, employees, . . . in common with the Lessor's other tenants . . . a non-exclusive right to use, free of charge, the common area service drives providing ingress and egress between the Leased Premises on Route #601.

Lessor hereby delivers and grants to Lessee, its employees, agents and business visitors . . . the exclusive right to the free use of those parking spaces in Area "A" . . . a non-exclusive right to the free use of those parking spaces shown in Area "B". . . .

When Claimant was advised that the plant would be closed, she called her husband who drove her to and from work, but he was unable to come for her, sending

[ 79 Pa. Commw. Page 336]

    another man to provide transportation to Claimant. Roseann Callaghan waited inside the building until the car for Claimant arrived. Roseann and Claimant went to their separate vehicles, Roseann's car having been towed from the lot to a spot closer to the exit driveway.*fn2 At this point Roseann could not get her car out of the snow. Claimant and the young man sent by her husband pushed her until she was able to get on her way. It was then that Claimant suffered the symptoms of a rupture of the cerebral aneurysm.

The referee made many findings, the principal ones involved in this appeal stating that "the vehicle of Roseann Callaghan, at that time, was not on the premises of the employer nor on the designated parking lot;" that "at the time of the incident of January 20, 1978, at approximately 3:00 P.M., claimant was not furthering the business or affairs of her employer;" at that time "claimant was not on the premises of her employer;" and that Claimant was not then "in the course of her employment with the defendant-employer." The referee's conclusions of law are basically that "Claimant failed to prove the incident of January 20, 1978 occurred on the premises or parking lot of her employer;" failed to prove that she was then "engaged in the furtherance of her employer's business or affairs;" failed to prove "that at the time of the incident of January 20, 1978, she was in the

[ 79 Pa. Commw. Page 337]

    course of her employment with the defendant-employer," and that she "failed to meet her burden of proof to establish she suffered an injury on January 20, 1978, within the meaning of the Workmen's Compensation Act as amended."*fn3 The referee's order is that the Claimant's Claim Petition be dismissed "for failure of Claimant to prove she suffered an injury on January 20, 1978, within the meaning of the Workmen's Compensation Act, as amended."

Since we will remand for the purpose of awarding appropriate compensation and other expenses of the Claimant, including a determination of the extent of Claimant's disability after June 13, 1978, we will here address only the principal issue addressed by the

[ 79 Pa. Commw. Page 338]

Board: Whether Claimant's injury was one arising in the course of her employment within the meaning of Section 301(c)(1) of the Act. First, there can be no question that parking lot "B" constituted "premises" of the employer under parking lot cases decided by this court and by the Supreme Court. Epler v. North American Rockwell Corp., 482 Pa. 391, 393 A.2d 1163 (1978); Port Authority of Allegheny County v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, 66 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 393, 444 A.2d 837 (1982). It is worth noting that in Port Authority, an award was sustained where the employee met his death one and one half hours after his work shift ended while he was engaged in shoveling snow from his car in the employer's parking lot. This court stated: "[The] snow was a condition of the parking lot which necessitated D'Agostino to shovel his car free." In the instant case, greater merit for Claimant's case derives from the fact that the rescue effort took place during working hours for which she was paid by the employer. See Nilsson v. Nepi Bros., 138 Pa. Superior Ct. 107, 9 A.2d 912 (1939), aff'd., 338 Pa. 561, 14 A.2d 75 (1940).*fn4

Furthermore, we consider it to be of no significance whether the car which claimant was pushing was in the lot or on the exit driveway, since it has long been established that "premises of the employer" includes avenues of ingress and egress which are necessary

[ 79 Pa. Commw. Page 339]

    and are provided by the employer for its employees to go to and from public highways to the place of employment. Fashion Hosiery Shops v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, 55 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 465, 423 A.2d 792 (1980); Schofield v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, 39 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 282, 395 A.2d 328 (1978).

Finally, it should be noted that emergency circumstances may provide employment status. Butrin v. Manion Steel Barrel Co., 361 Pa. 166, 63 A.2d 345 (1949).

We find clearly inapposite the case of Ofcansky v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, 69 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 249, 450 A.2d 806 (1982), relied upon by the Board. In that case a fellow employee of Ofcansky had agreed to drive him home from work on a regular basis. On a night when a ride was unavailable they walked home and Ofcansky was struck by an automobile on a public highway suffering injuries for which he sought compensation.

Accordingly, since the Board erred as a matter of law by concluding that Claimant's injuries were not sustained on the premises of the employer, we shall reverse and remand for additional findings, with or without additional hearings, on the questions of the period and extent of Claimant's disability.

Order

Now, January 4, 1984, the order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board at No. A-82252, dated December 16, 1982, is reversed, and the record in this case is hereby remanded to the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board for further proceedings not inconsistent with the opinion above. Jurisdiction relinquished.

Judge John A. MacPhail dissents.

Disposition

Reversed and remanded.


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