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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD (DECKER) (02/08/88)

decided: February 8, 1988.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF GENERAL SERVICES AND STATE WORKMEN'S INSURANCE FUND, PETITIONERS
v.
WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD (DECKER), RESPONDENTS



Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in the case of Joby T. Decker v. Pennsylvania Department of General Services, No. A-89399.

COUNSEL

Richard F. Faux, with him, Charles F. McElwee, for petitioners.

Deborah J. Subashi, for respondent, Joby Decker.

Judge Colins and Palladino, and Senior Judge Kalish, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Senior Judge Kalish. Judge Colins dissents.

Author: Kalish

[ 113 Pa. Commw. Page 303]

The Department of General Services and the State Workmen's Insurance Fund seek review of an order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board) which affirmed the referee's decision granting Joby Decker's (claimant) petition for compensation and awarding her total disability benefits. We reverse.

Claimant, an employee of the State of Pennsylvania, worked at the North Office Building in Harrisburg. On October 22, 1982, at the end of claimant's work day, claimant left the North Office Building and crossed the street onto the William Penn Plaza, which leads to the Transportation Building. From there claimant was going to meet her car pool in a public parking lot on Seventh

[ 113 Pa. Commw. Page 304]

Street. As claimant reached the Plaza, an employee leaving the Transportation Building bumped into claimant's daughter-in-law who fell onto claimant, who in turn sustained injuries.

The referee noted in his findings that the William Penn Plaza is a public area and that there is also an underground tunnel, intended for the use of employees, which connects the two buildings. The referee held and the Board affirmed that claimant was in furtherance of the employer's business at the time of the accident and therefore her injuries are compensable. We disagree.

Our scope of review is limited to a determination of whether constitutional rights were violated, an error of law was committed, or whether necessary findings of fact are supported by substantial evidence. Section 704 of the Administrative Agency Law, 2 Pa. C. S. § 704. The issue, therefore, is whether this finding that the injury occurred on the premises of the State is based on substantial evidence, in the context of workmen's compensation.

Section 301(c) of The Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act (Act), Act of June 2, 1915, P.L. 736, as amended, 77 P.S. § 411(1), in defining an injury arising in the course of employment, includes all injuries occurring on the premises occupied by or under the control of the employer. The meaning of the word "premises" is a question of law to be determined from the facts. Robinson v. Y.W.C.A., 215 Pa. Superior Ct. 19, 257 A.2d 690 (1969).

In Epler v. North American Rockwell Corp., 482 Pa. 391, 393 A.2d 1163 (1978), while recognizing the various aspects of what constitutes an employer's premises in the context of workmen's compensation, the Supreme Court concluded that the crucial factor is whether the employer had caused the area ...


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