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VIOLET RUPARCICH v. MARY LOU BORGMAN AND KEYSTONE OAKS SCHOOL DISTRICT (09/23/88)

decided: September 23, 1988.

VIOLET RUPARCICH
v.
MARY LOU BORGMAN AND KEYSTONE OAKS SCHOOL DISTRICT, JOINTLY AND/OR SEVERALLY. MARY LOU BORGMAN, APPELLANT



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, in the case of Violet Ruparcich v. Mary Lou Borgman and Keystone Oaks School District, jointly and/or severally, No. GD-83-16190.

COUNSEL

Daniel R. Delaney, Daniel R. Delaney & Associates, for appellant.

Richard S. Freyvogel, with him, Robert Rade Stone, for appellee.

Judges Doyle, Palladino and McGinley, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Palladino.

Author: Palladino

[ 119 Pa. Commw. Page 642]

Mary Lou Borgman (Appellant) appeals an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County (trial court) denying her motions for a new trial and judgment notwithstanding the verdict and affirming a non-jury verdict in favor of Violet Ruparcich (Appellee). For the reasons set forth below, we affirm.

Appellant and Appellee were both employed as physical education teachers by the Keystone Oaks School District (School District). On October 2, 1981, a new typewriter was delivered to the office which Appellant and Appellee shared with several other physical education teachers. When the new typewriter was delivered, it was placed on Appellant's desk instead of the "common desk" which all of the teachers in the office shared. Appellee testified at trial that when she returned to the office after a class, the office was empty. Appellee further testified that she noticed the new typewriter and began to move it to her own desk to type a note. Appellee stated that Appellant then returned to the office and a tugging match ensued over the typewriter. Appellee alleged that Appellant pushed her, knocked her off balance, and used the typewriter as a "ramming rod," thereby causing Appellee to fall backwards against a plate glass wall.

Appellant disputed this version of the incident, alleging that she was in the office first and was examining the typewriter when Appellee entered the room, screamed, and pushed her away from the typewriter. According to both versions of the events, the typewriter

[ 119 Pa. Commw. Page 643]

    fell to the floor and broke. The parties did not agree on which one of them last touched the typewriter.

Appellee brought an action in trespass and assumpsit against Appellant for personal injuries and lost wages. Appellee joined the School District as an additional defendant, contending that the School District was liable for failing to provide a safe workplace. By order dated January 6, 1987, the trial court entered a non-jury verdict in favor of Appellee in the amount of $7,137.18, finding both the School District and Appellant liable.*fn1

Appellant filed post-trial motions for a new trial and/or judgment n.o.v. Appellant alleged that the trial court erred in declining to apply principles of res judicata and collateral estoppel based upon an earlier lawsuit between Appellee and the School District. Appellant also contended that Appellee's action was barred by the exclusive remedy provisions of The Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act (Act).*fn2 Finally, Appellant argued that the verdict was excessive and unsupported by the evidence. The trial court ...


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