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McLelland v. United States

December 3, 2009

WILLIAM J. MCLELLAND AND BARBARAJ. MCLELLAND, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, DEFENDANT,
v.
NORTHWESTERN MUTUAL LIFE INS. CO., ADDITIONAL DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Donetta W. Ambrose Judge, U.S. District Court

OPINION AND ORDER

SYNOPSIS

In this civil action, Plaintiff contends that he slipped and fell on ice while on the Defendant's property. At the time, Plaintiff was a tractor-trailer driver, employed by Neff, a trucking company that hauls mail pursuant to transportation services contracts with Defendant. Defendant has moved for summary judgment, on grounds that it should be deemed Plaintiff's employer, and not subject to suit. Also pending are Defendant's Motion to Strike two paragraphs of Plaintiff's affidavit, and Motion to Strike Plaintiff's Appendix, alleging that Plaintiff submitted to the Court gratuitous, immaterial evidence; and Plaintiff's Motion to have certain Paragraphs of Plaintiff's Counter-statement of facts deemed admitted.

The Government's Motions to Strike and Plaintiff's Motion regarding the Counter-Statement of facts will be denied. The Motions are unnecessary, as the Court will treat all Summary Judgment materials in accordance with applicable Local Rules and Fed. R. Civ. P. 56, and will consider only facts and materials that are appropriate for consideration under those rules. Likewise, the Motion for Summary Judgment will be denied.

OPINION

I. Applicable Standards

Summary judgment shall be granted if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). In considering a motion for summary judgment, the Court must examine the facts in a light most favorable to the party opposing the motion. International Raw Materials, Ltd. V. Stauffer Chem . Co., 898 F. 2d 946, 949 (3d Cir. 1990). The moving party bears the burden of demonstrating the absence of any genuine issues of material fact. United States v. Onmicare, Inc., 382 F. 3d 432 (3d Cir. 2004). Rule 56, however, mandates the entry of judgment against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof. Celotex Corp. v. Cattrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed. 265 (1986).

Pursuant to Local Rule of Civil Procedure 56.1, alleged material facts claimed to be undisputed will be deemed admitted unless specifically denied or otherwise controverted by a separate concise statement of the opposing party.

I have carefully considered the parties' submissions according to these standards.

II. Defendant's Motion

In its Motion for Summary Judgment, Defendant argues that it should be deemed Plaintiff's employer, pursuant to the "borrowed servant" doctrine, and therefore is not subject to suit and is entitled to judgment on Plaintiff's claims against it. The parties agree that Pennsylvania law applies.

Pennsylvania's Workers' Compensation Act, 77 P.S. § 1 et seq., is the exclusive means for securing compensation for injuries incurred during the course of employment, if the entity from whom compensation is sought is Plaintiff's employer. Under the "borrowed servant" doctrine, a Plaintiff employed by another may be "transferred to the service of another in such a manner that the employee becomes an employee of the second employer." Red Line Express Co., Inc. v. Workmen's Comp. Appeal Bd., 588 A.2d 90, 93 (Pa. Commw. 1991).

[U]nder the "borrowed servant" doctrine, a person who is in the general employ of one employer may be transferred to the service of another employer in such a way that the transferred employee effectively becomes an employee of that second employer.

While there remains a factual presumption that a borrowed employee remains in the employ of his original employer, this presumption is rebuttable by evidence tending to show that the borrowing employer ...


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