Submitted: October 7, 2016
BEFORE: HONORABLE RENÉE COHN JUBELIRER, Judge,
HONORABLE PATRICIA A. McCULLOUGH, Judge HONORABLE JAMES
GARDNER COLINS, Senior Judge.
PATRICIA A. McCULLOUGH, Judge.
Aviation (Employer) petitions for review of the March 30,
2016 decision of the Workers' Compensation Appeal Board
(Board), affirming the order of a workers' compensation
judge (WCJ) that granted the claim petition filed by Modesty
Colquitt (Claimant). We affirm.
worked for Employer as a "ramp agent lead" at
Pittsburgh International Airport. (WCJ's Finding of Fact
at No. 1.) Her job duties consisted of driving a tug with a
cart (a vehicle used to transport luggage bags), unloading
and reloading baggage on to airplanes, and dropping bags off
at a belt so that passengers could retrieve them. Claimant
performed most of her duties at the Airside Terminal,
apparently where airplanes depart, but sometimes had to
travel to the Landside Terminal, where travelers check in, to
deliver bags to an area described as the matrix. Id.
at Nos. 1-2.
September 2, 2014, Claimant, who was twenty-one years old at
the time, arrived at work to begin her 2:00 p.m. to 11:00
p.m. shift. Claimant had started her menstrual cycle after
she left home and realized that she had forgotten her wallet
when she arrived at work. Claimant called her mother around
2:30 p.m. and requested that she bring feminine products and
money to Claimant's work. At approximately 8:30 p.m. to
9:00 p.m., Claimant drove a tug from the Airside Terminal to
the Landside Terminal to meet her mother. Claimant's
supervisor had given her permission to do so. Claimant's
mother brought feminine hygiene products, lunch money, TV
dinners, and cigarettes and parked her car near the Landside
Terminal. While Claimant was driving the tug to meet her
mother, it flipped and trapped her left leg. An ambulance
transported Claimant to the hospital where her left leg was
amputated in the area above the ankle and below the knee.
Id. at Nos. 5-7.
September of 2014, Claimant filed a claim petition alleging
that she suffered injuries while in the course and scope of
her employment with Employer. Employer issued a notice of
compensation denial stating, in part, that Claimant's
injury was not within the course of her employment. The WCJ
convened a hearing.
testified to the facts recited above. In opposition, Employer
presented the testimony of Lyn Brett, Claimant's
co-worker. Brett stated that, on the day of the accident, she
saw Claimant in the break room around 6:00 p.m. and Claimant
said that she had cramps and was hungry. Brett testified that
she offered Claimant some food and money, but Claimant said
that her mother was bringing her food and money. Brett added
that she believed that the restroom and break room contained
feminine products. Id. at No. 11.
also presented the testimony of another co-worker, Dan
Gordon, who stated that he was working as a
"wingman" with Claimant and that she operated the
tug "entirely too fast" on the date of the
accident. Id. at No. 12. Finally, Employer submitted
the testimony of Daniel Butler, a ramp lead for a different
crew. Butler stated that, during a break, Claimant offered
him crackers. Id. at No. 13.
decision dated January 7, 2015, the WCJ found Claimant's
testimony credible and convincing. The WCJ found that
Claimant forgot her wallet, started her menstrual cycle on
September 2, 2014, while at work, needed feminine products
and money, and called her mother to deliver such products and
money to her at the airport. Id. at No. 14(c)-(e).
Notably, the WCJ found that "[C]laimant's job
performance would be affected by her menstrual cycle and
would be adversely affected if she did not have feminine
products to address the situation." Id. at No.
14(d). The WCJ further found that Claimant asked for and
received permission from her supervisor to take a tug to meet
her mother at the Landside Terminal and that Claimant's
injury occurred on Employer's premises. Id. at
No. 14(f), (h).
on these findings, the WCJ determined that Claimant's
temporary departure from performing work to administer to her
personal needs did not take her out of the course of her
employment. The WCJ found that Claimant's departure from
work was temporary, Claimant had permission to engage in this
departure, and the departure was for the purpose of attending
to personal needs and comfort that would allow her to
continue her shift with Employer. Therefore, the WCJ
concluded, Claimant remained in the course of her employment
pursuant to the "personal comfort doctrine."
Id. at No. 14(g)-(i).
rendering her decision, the WCJ made the following assessment
of the testimony of Employer's witnesses: "While
considered, I do not find [Employer's] witnesses
testimony to be relevant to the issues in this matter."
Id. at No. 15. More specifically, the WCJ found that
Brett's testimony regarding the availability of feminine
products for purchase in the rest and break rooms was
"inconsequential;" that Gordon's testimony
about Claimant using the tug "too fast" was
"immaterial;" and that Butler's testimony that
Claimant offered him snacks was also "immaterial."
Id. at No. 15.
made these credibility determinations and factual findings,
the WCJ granted Claimant's claim petition, concluding
that she had been totally disabled ...