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Lic Canot and Kemely Canot, Husband and Wife v. City of Easton

February 9, 2012

LIC CANOT AND KEMELY CANOT, HUSBAND AND WIFE, APPELLANTS
v.
CITY OF EASTON



The opinion of the court was delivered by: P. Kevin Brobson, Judge

Argued: December 13, 2011

BEFORE: HONORABLE RENEE COHN JUBELIRER, Judge HONORABLE P. KEVIN BROBSON, Judge HONORABLE PATRICIA A. McCULLOUGH, Judge

OPINION BY JUDGE BROBSON

Lic and Kemely Canot (Canots) appeal from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Northampton County (trial court), dated March 10, 2011. The trial court granted the City of Easton's (City) motion for summary judgment and denied the Canots' motion for partial summary judgment, determining that the City was entitled to immunity from civil liability pursuant to the exclusivity provisions of the Workers' Compensation Act (Act), Act of June 2, 1915, P.L. 736, as amended, 77 P.S. §§ 1-1041.4, 2501-2708. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

In June 2006, a flood occurred in Easton, Pennsylvania, which caused damage to the City's property. In response, the City entered into a National Emergency Grant Worksite Project Agreement (Agreement) with the Private Industry Council (PIC).*fn1 (Reproduced Record (R.R.) at 78-89.) Under the Agreement, PIC agreed to provide "participants" to assist City employees with flood-related clean-up duties for the period of August 15, 2006, to December 31, 2006. (Id. at 78.) In return, the City agreed to provide adequate direction and supervision for the PIC-provided workers, as follows:

VII. REPRESENTATIONS AND UNDERSTANDING:

The [City] agrees to operate this worksite in accordance with the provisions, conditions and specifications as follows:

1. To insure that participants assigned to this worksite will only perform tasks that are a result of the disaster or are necessary because of the destruction in this declared area.

2. To insure that PIC will be notified as soon as all tasks which are necessary as a direct result of the destruction have been completed.

3. To insure compliance with governing state and federal laws and policy.

4. To provide adequate supervision of the temporary participants.

5. To provide sufficient work to fully occupy the temporary participants' working hours.

6. To maintain the worksite timesheets and monitoring of hours and attendance.

7. To adhere to applicable wage and hour regulations.

8. To insure safe and sanitary working conditions. 9. To file injury reports when applicable and immediately advise PIC as the Workers' Compensation provider.

10. To insure that no temporary participant will be involved in any sectarian or political activities.

(Id. at 81.)

As required by the Agreement, the parties drafted a "job description"-dictated by criteria submitted by the City (id. at 60, 67, 73)-setting forth the PIC-provided workers' responsibilities, hours, rate of pay, etc. (Id. at 82-86.) The job description described the PIC-provided workers as "laborers," as defined by materials submitted by the City and attached to the job description, and provided that the PIC-provided workers were to work 40 hours per week, from 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., with an unpaid lunch break between 12:00 p.m. and 12:30 p.m., at a rate of $12.00 per hour. (Id. at 82.) The job description provided that PIC was to equip the PIC-provided workers with reasonable safety equipment, such as steel-tipped boots, glasses, and gloves, but that the City was to supply all operational equipment. (Id. at 83.) Finally, the job description identified "Carl Schumacher, Supervisor of Parks," as the PIC-provided workers' supervisor, and "Robert Rudd, Executive Director of Hugh Moore Park," as alternate supervisor. (Id. at 82)

Regarding the relationship between the City, PIC, and the PIC-provided workers, the Agreement provided, in pertinent part:

H. RELATIONSHIP OF PARTIES:

The [City] does not become the agent of PIC for any purpose pursuant to this Agreement, and will make no representation of such. In agreeing to provide direction and supervision for the participant(s), the [City] understands that this does not make any participant an employee or agent of PIC, nor is PIC liable to the [City] or any third party by reason of any future act or failure to act by any participant on or off the job (Id. at 80.)

Concerning the payment of wages and workers' compensation, the Agreement provided, in pertinent part:

A. PAYMENTS:

(1) The [City] will assist PIC by providing the appropriate documentation (signed timesheets) to PIC on a timely basis to ensure the participant is paid on a timely basis.

(2) All hours must be rounded to the nearest quarter hour on a daily basis.

I. WORKERS' COMPENSATION:

PIC will provide Workers' Compensation coverage to all participants.

(Id. at 79-80.)

Mr. Canot was one of the workers sent by PIC to assist the City with flood clean-up. Mr. Canot's primary assignment was constructing and moving cabinets. (Id. at 122.) Mr. Canot contends that he was injured on November 17, 2006, while working in the parks department garage. Specifically, Mr. Canot alleges that he was in the process of moving a large metal cabinet when he slipped and fell on grease, or some other slippery substance, causing the cabinet to fall on top of him. (Id. at 12.) Mr. Canot subsequently sought and ...


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