Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of Mary Wagner v. Midwestern Freight Lines and Shreiner Trucking Company, No. A-85417.
Fred C. Trenor, Meyer, Darragh, Buckler, Bebenek & Eck, for petitioners.
Neil J. Rovner, Angino & Rovner, P.C., for respondent, Mary P. Wagner.
Judith L. White, Nikolaus, Hohenadel, Chesters & Umbenhauer, for respondent, Mid-Western Freight Lines.
Judges Craig and MacPhail, and Senior Judge Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge MacPhail.
[ 97 Pa. Commw. Page 184]
Shreiner Trucking Company (Shreiner) and its insurance carrier, Westmoreland Casualty Company, appeal from an order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board) affirming an award of benefits, by a referee to Mary Wagner (Claimant) based on her fatal claim petition seeking workmen's compensation benefits from Shreiner.
On January 26, 1977, Edward Wagner, Jr. (decedent) was killed when the truck he was driving to Nevada, which was owned by Shreiner, plunged down an embankment near Shelby, Iowa. The parties do not dispute that decedent was in the course of his employment or that his death was related thereto; Shreiner's main contention on appeal is that the referee erred as a matter of law in finding that Shreiner and not Midwestern Freight Lines (Midwestern) was decedent's employer.
Shreiner hauled freight under its own I.C.C. permit and leased its equipment to other carriers to haul freight under their I.C.C. permits. Ronald Shreiner, the principal owner of the trucking concern, also worked as a commission agent for Midwestern. As a commission agent, Mr. Shreiner solicited freight for transport and arranged for a truck company to haul that freight, executing the necessary documents.
Midwestern had an I.C.C. permit to haul freight to Nevada; Shreiner did not, although it had an I.C.C. permit to transport freight from Nevada to the East Coast. Shreiner had a customer, Howmet, that needed freight hauled to Nevada. In December of 1976, Mr. Shreiner solicited Howmet's freight for transport for
[ 97 Pa. Commw. Page 185]
Midwestern and arranged for Shreiner Trucking Co. to haul the freight under a lease agreement with Midwestern. A 30-day lease was entered into, the terms of which provided that Midwestern was the Lessee, and that Shreiner Trucking Co., with decedent as its driver, was Lessor. The "Terms and Conditions of the Lease" also provided, in pertinent part:
The Lessor agrees to deliver to the Lessee the above equipment in good running order and condition; maintain the same in good working condition, furnishing all necessary oil, gasoline, tires, and repairs for the operation of said equipment and to pay all other expenses incident to such operation.
The authorized carrier Lessee agrees to properly and correctly identify with signs the leased equipment in accordance ...