No. 248 Pittsburgh, 1982, Appeal from the Judgment of the Court of Common Pleas, Civil Division, of Allegheny County, No. GD 79-30214.
John Baginski, Pittsburgh, for appellant.
Colleen N. Kilbert, Pittsburgh, for Supp, appellee.
William R. Haushalter, Pittsburgh, for Erie, appellee.
Rowley, Wieand and Hester, JJ.
[ 330 Pa. Super. Page 544]
This is an appeal from a declaratory judgment entered after a court en banc dismissed the exceptions of the appellant, Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, to the findings and conclusions of the trial judge. We reverse.
Because a declaratory judgment action follows "as nearly as may be" the practice and procedure in an action in equity, Pa.R.C.P. No. 1601(a), we will review the determination of the trial court as we would a decree in equity. Our scope of review is narrow.
A chancellor's findings of fact, when approved by the court en banc, have the force and effect of a jury verdict and will not be disturbed on appeal if supported by adequate evidence. Herwood v. Herwood, 461 Pa. 322, 336 A.2d 306 (1975). However, the chancellor's inferences and conclusions, which are drawn from the facts, and the application of the law are always subject to review. Adler v. Montefiore Hospital Association of Western Pennsylvania, 453 Pa. 60, 311 A.2d 634 (1973), cert. denied, 414 U.S. 1131, 94 S.Ct. 870, 38 L.Ed.2d 755 (1974).
McDole v. Duquesne Brewing Co. of Pittsburgh, 281 Pa. Super. 78, 83, 421 A.2d 1155, 1158 (1980) (quotations and citation omitted).
The record fully supports the court's findings of fact which are substantially as follows.
[ 330 Pa. Super. Page 545]
For some months prior to August 29, 1978, James Supp had been driving a truck for Ajax Forging and Casting Company (Ajax). Supp acted as driver for Ajax pursuant to an agreement, designated as a "lease", between Ajax and Transpersonnel, Inc. (Transpersonnel). By this agreement, Transpersonnel agreed to procure the services of truck drivers and assign them to Ajax. Transpersonnel agreed to perform all payroll operations and carry Workmen's Compensation insurance for each of the drivers assigned under the agreement. On its part, Ajax was given the power to "dispatch, direct the loading and unloading of vehicles, select routes, direct the drivers to pick-ups, deliveries and other matters related to the day-to-day operation of the vehicles utilized by" it. Foremen at various Ajax plants instructed Supp as to what to carry, where to carry it and, ...