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GEORGE M. LYNCH v. WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD (CONNELLSVILLE AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT) (02/02/89)

decided: February 2, 1989.

GEORGE M. LYNCH, PETITIONER
v.
WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD (CONNELLSVILLE AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT), RESPONDENTS



Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, in the case of George M. Lynch v. Connellsville Area School District, No. A-92133.

COUNSEL

George M. Lynch, for petitioner, for himself.

H. Reginald Belden, Jr., Stewart, Belden and Belden, for respondent, Connellsville Area School District.

Judges Barry and Palladino, and Senior Judge Narick, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Senior Judge Narick.

Author: Narick

[ 123 Pa. Commw. Page 300]

The sole issue on this appeal is whether the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board) erred in deciding

[ 123 Pa. Commw. Page 301]

    that George Lynch (Claimant) was an independent contractor rather than an employee of the Connellsville Area School District (District) for the purpose of workmen's compensation under The Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act.*fn1 Claimant did not appeal the dismissal of his petition filed against the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA).*fn2 The causal relationship of the alleged injury and the amputation of Claimant's lower right leg was not litigated but reserved, pending decision of whether Claimant was an independent contractor rather than an employee.

The parties have presented no Pennsylvania appellate court decision addressing the question of whether a football official's relationship, either on the high school or college/university level is that of an employee or independent contractor of a high school or college/university for the purpose of workmen's compensation. Thus, the question now before us is one of first impression. The referee, after five days of hearings and making extensive findings of fact and conclusions of law, found Claimant's relationship to be that of an independent contractor and dismissed Claimant's petition. The referee's findings, conclusions and order were affirmed by the Board. We affirm.

Our scope of review is limited to ascertaining whether constitutional rights have been violated, an error of law has been committed, or whether necessary findings

[ 123 Pa. Commw. Page 302]

    of fact are supported by substantial, competent evidence. Section 704 of the Administrative Agency Law, 2 Pa. C.S. ยง 704. See Blue Bell Printing v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, 115 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 203, 539 A.2d 933 (1988).

The definition of independent contractor is not set out in the Act, but the law in determining whether a relationship is either employer-employee or an independent contractor is ably set forth in Surowski v. Public School Employees' Retirement System, 78 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 490, 467 A.2d 1373 (1983):

In determining whether a relationship is one of employee-employer or independent contractor, certain factors will be considered which, while not controlling, serve as general guidance to the Court. These factors include: the control of the manner that work is to be done; responsibility for result only; terms of agreement between the parties; the nature of the work or occupation; the skill required for performance; whether one employed is engaged in a distinct occupation or business; which party supplies the tools; whether payment is by the time or by the job; whether the work is part of the regular business of the employer, and the right to terminate the employment at any time. Hammermill Paper Co. v. Rust Engineering Co., 430 Pa. 365, 243 A.2d 389 (1968); J. Miller Co. v. Mixter, 2 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 229, 277 A.2d 867 (1971).

Also see: Davidson v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (DeLeon), 42 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 30, 399 A.2d 1193 (1979).

However, the right to control is the most persuasive indication of one or the other. As stated in Davidson, 42 Pa. Commonwealth ...


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