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ROBERT A. WALTON v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (04/23/86)

decided: April 23, 1986.

ROBERT A. WALTON, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION BOARD OF REVIEW, RESPONDENT



Appeal from the Order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review in the case of In Re: Claim of Robert A. Walton, No. B-229296.

COUNSEL

K. Lawrence Kemp, Kemp and Kemp, for petitioner.

Charles Donahue, Associate Counsel, with him, Charles G. Hasson, Acting Deputy Chief Counsel, for respondent.

Judges MacPhail, Doyle and Barry, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Doyle.

Author: Doyle

[ 96 Pa. Commw. Page 472]

This is the appeal of Robert A. Walton (Claimant) from an order of the Unemployment Compensation

[ 96 Pa. Commw. Page 473]

Board of Review (Board), which affirmed the decision of the referee denying Claimant benefits under Section 402(e) of the Unemployment Compensation Law,*fn1 43 P.S. ยง 802(e) (willful misconduct).

Claimant was last employed by Browning-Ferris Industries (Employer) as an operator of a commercial trash truck. Between the period of April, 1983 and November, 1983, Claimant was involved in eight different accidents which resulted in damage to the Employer's truck.*fn2 During November of 1983, Claimant received a warning letter from his Employer concerning his accidents, and was required to undergo retraining on the safe operation of his truck.

On December 15, 1983, Claimant drove his truck under a bridge with the truck's top lid in a partially opened position. Claimant noticed that the lid was open by use of the cab's periscope but could not stop the truck in time to avoid collision with the bridge. Claimant was immediately suspended without pay pending an investigation of this accident. On December 28, 1983, Claimant was terminated from his position on the basis of his involvement in an excessive number of accidents pursuant to an Employer policy.

[ 96 Pa. Commw. Page 474]

Claimant's application for unemployment compensation benefits was denied by the Office of Employment Security. On appeal to the referee, the referee found that Claimant's termination was due to his willful misconduct, and denied compensation on that basis. The referee's determination was upheld by the Board, and this appeal followed.

In determining whether a claimant's vehicular accidents constitute a basis for disqualifying willful misconduct this Court has stated that "a series of accidents, attributable to negligence, occurring periodically and with consistent regularity, which produce substantial financial loss to the employer . . . will support the conclusion that an employe is guilty of willful misconduct." Coulter v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 16 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 462, 466, 332 A.2d 876, 879 (1975). We also observed in Coulter that "[a] single dereliction or a minor and casual act of negligence or carelessness does not ...


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