Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Schuylkill County in the case of Alvin E. Maurer, Jr. v. Frederick H. Hobbs, Olga R. Miller and County of Schuylkill, No. S-1634-1985.
Richard E. Freeburn, Shearer, Mette, Evans & Woodside, for appellant.
Robert I. Cottom, Cottom, Hoffert & Gring, for appellee, Frederick H. Hobbs.
Judges Doyle and Barry, and Senior Judge Kalish, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Doyle.
[ 113 Pa. Commw. Page 55]
The County of Schuylkill (County) has taken an interlocutory appeal by permission from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Schuylkill County, which denied the County's motion for judgment on the pleadings, or in the alternative, for summary judgment. We affirm.
Frederick Hobbs was the County solicitor from 1977 through 1983, and he was also allowed by the County to maintain a private law practice on the side. Hobbs was not supplied with office space by the County. Consequently, he performed his duties as County solicitor from his private law office on the second floor of the Thompson Building in Pottsville, Pennsylvania.
The County also did not provide Hobbs with any clerical staff. Therefore, Hobbs used the secretary he
[ 113 Pa. Commw. Page 56]
engaged to do his private legal work, Olga Miller, to do the secretarial work connected with the County solicitorship. Half of Miller's salary was paid directly to her by the County. The County accordingly issued Miller W-2 income tax forms for the 1981, 1982 and 1983 tax years.
On November 28, 1983, Alvin Maurer, an attorney whose office was located across from Hobbs' office, stepped into Hobbs' office to have a legal document notarized by Miller.*fn1 After getting the document notarized, Maurer tripped over a telephone cord that ran from Miller's desktop to the floor and sustained injuries.
Maurer filed suit against Hobbs, who joined the County and Miller as additional defendants. After the close of all the pleadings, the County moved for judgment on the pleadings or, in the alternative, for summary judgment, on the basis that Hobbs was an independent contractor. The trial court denied the motion on September 11, 1986. Subsequently, on September 30, 1986, the County petitioned the Court to amend its September 11, 1986 order so as to allow an interlocutory appeal by permission under 42 Pa. C. S. § 702(b). See Pa. R.A.P. 1311. The trial court granted this request on May 21, 1987. This Court subsequently granted permission to appeal and, hence, this appeal followed.
Our scope of review over a grant or denial of judgment on the pleadings is limited to determining whether there has been an error of law or an abuse of discretion. Agostine v. School District of Philadelphia, 106 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 492, 527 A.2d 193 ...