Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in the case of Harold Daniel Howar (Harold Daniel Hoar) v. Investors Diversified Services, No. A-88670.
Judith H. Veres, with her, A. J. Plastino, II, William K. Herrington & Associates, for petitioners.
Edward G. Kuyat, Jr., with him, Samuel R. Di Francesco, Jr., Gleason, Di Francesco, Shahade & Markovitz, for respondents.
Judges Barry, Colins (p) and Palladino, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Colins. Dissenting Opinion by Judge Palladino.
[ 103 Pa. Commw. Page 564]
Investors Diversified Services and Travelers Insurance Company (collectively, employer) appeal an order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board) affirming a referee's award of workmen's compensation to Harold Daniel Howar (Harold Daniel Hoar) (claimant), a registered representative of employer engaged in the sale of insurance and investment contracts.
The following facts are pertinent. Claimant was injured in an automobile accident on December 21, 1980, while returning home from a Christmas party for sales representatives given by Mr. Barry Mates, a divisional sales manager for the employer. The claimant's usual place of employment was in his home; he, in fact, visited the employer's office only to consult with his supervisor and submit completed contracts.
Following hearings to determine the compensability of claimant's injuries, a referee determined that: (1) the claimant was a "traveling employee;" (2) a social function
[ 103 Pa. Commw. Page 565]
enabling salesmen to meet and discuss business furthered the business affairs of the employer; and (3) the claimant was injured in the course of the employer's business and in furtherance of the employer's business affairs. The referee awarded claimant compensation for total disability, the Board affirmed and the employer's appeal to this Court followed.
Upon appeal, the employer contends that the claimant, at the time of his injury, had departed his employment and was engaged in the furtherance of his own affairs and pleasure. The employer maintains that the Christmas party attended by the claimant was a purely social function unrelated to the employer's business affairs and that the claimant had further attenuated any putative employment connection by virtue of his conduct in taking a young woman for a ride in his new automobile prior to returning with her to the party and then commencing his ill-fated trip home. The employer also submits that the referee erred in finding claimant to be totally disabled, failed to consider the claimant's alleged ability to perform his former duties and further failed to credit certain earnings of the claimant against compensation awarded.
We first consider whether the claimant's injury was sustained while he was "actually engaged in the furtherance of the business or affairs of the employer," within the meaning of Section 301(c) of The Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act, Act of June 2, 1915, P.L. 735, as amended, 77 P.S. § 411(1). The determination of whether an employee is within the course of his employment at the time of injury is one of law subject to our review. Jones v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Rehabilitation Coordinators, Inc.), 88 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 426, 489 A.2d 1006 (1985). "The phrase 'actually engaged in the furtherance of the business or affairs of the employer' (usually expressed in a more restrictive term 'in the course of employment') must be
[ 103 Pa. Commw. Page 566]
given a liberal construction. . . ." Tredyffrin-Easttown School District v. Breyer, 48 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 81, 83-84, 408 A.2d 1194, 1195 (1979), citing Feaster v. S. K. Kelso & Sons, 22 ...