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Sabrina Bowman v. Sunoco

December 16, 2009

SABRINA BOWMAN,
APPELLANT
v.
SUNOCO, INC.,
APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order Entered May 21, 2008 In the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County Civil at No(s): December Term, 2006 No. 2227 2009 PA Super 242

J. A15041/09

BEFORE: STEVENS, KLEIN, and KELLY, JJ. OPINION BY STEVENS, J.:

¶ 1 This is an appeal from the order entered in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County granting a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings filed by Defendant/Appellee, Sunoco, Inc. and dismissing Plaintiff/Appellant Sabrina Bowman's negligence claim for injuries she sustained while working as a private security guard on Sunoco property. Specifically, the court agreed with Sunoco's Affirmative Defense that Bowman, by signing a Worker's Compensation Disclaimer in exchange for her employment with Allied Barton Security Services, had waived her right to file claims against clients of Allied Barton for damages otherwise covered by workers' compensation. Herein, Bowman contends that such a release is contrary to public policy and, therefore, unenforceable. We affirm.

¶ 2 The trial court has aptly summarized the factual and procedural history as follows:

The Plaintiff alleges to have been seriously injured when she tripped, slipped, or fell on snow or ice that the Defendant negligently allowed to accumulate on the ground at its refinery located at 7801 Mingo Road in the City of Philadelphia. Complaint ¶ 3 and 7 (Dec 19 2005). Plaintiff alleges that this incident occurred in the course and scope of her employment as a security officer for Allied Barton Security wherein she had been assigned to provide security for the Defendant's refinery located at Mingo Road. Complaint ¶ 5 and 6.

The Defendant filed an Answer and New Matter and its New Matter contained a paragraph 21 wherein it argued that: Bowman's claims are barred by the doctrine of waiver, as she executed a "Workers' Comp Disclaimer,"on November 23, 2004, in which she waived and forever released her rights to make a claim, commence a lawsuit or recover damages from or against Sunoco for the injuries alleged herein. See "Workers' Comp Disclaimer"dated November 23, 2004, attached hereto as Exhibit 1.

The "Workers' Comp Disclaimer"attached as Exhibit 1 to the Defendant's Answer with New Matter reads as follows:

Worker[s'] Comp Disclaimer

Payment on Work-Related Injuries

I understand that state Workers' Compensation statutes cover work-related injuries that may be sustained by me. If I am injured on the job, I understand that I am required to notify my manager immediately. The manager will inform me of my state's Workers' Compensation law as it pertains to seeking medical treatment. This is to assure that reasonable medical treatment for an injury will be paid for by Allied Workers' Compensation insurance.

As a result, and in consideration of Allied Security offering me employment, I hereby waive and forever release any and all rights I may have to:

make a claim, or

commence a lawsuit, or recover damages or losses from or against any customer (and the employees of any customer) of Allied Security to which I may be assigned, arising from or related to injuries which are covered under the Workers' Compensation statutes.

The Plaintiff admits that she failed to respond to the Defendant's Amended Answer and New Matter. Plaintiff's Response to Defendant's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings ¶ 14 (4.21.08). However, the Plaintiff did respond to the Defendant's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. In her response, she argues that she was not required to respond to the Defendant's New Matter. She also argues that the "Workers' Comp Disclaimer"at issue was void as it violated public policy and or the pla[i]n language of the Workers' Compensation Statute. Id. § II Counterstatement of the Question Involved. In her response, the Plaintiff did not argue duress, contract of adhesion, or fraud. No factual issue was presented as to whether the Plaintiff understood or misunderstood the disclaimer when she signed. [The trial court] granted the Defendant's ...


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