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Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
October 7, 1930, Argued ; November 24, 1930
[*291] [**425] OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE KEPHART:
The Levinson Company, hereinafter called Levinson, was erecting a steel crane shed for its own occupancy on ground that was in its possession under a lease. It contracted with Uhl for the construction of the steel work, Dunn for the concrete piers, and a third party for the roofing. While working on the steel structure, McDonald, an employee of Uhl, was injured due to the breaking of a concrete pier. Compensation was awarded to the employee through Uhl as employer under the Workmen's Compensation Act. McDonald then brought an action against Levinson for damages resulting from the injury, alleging neglect of duty in providing a defectively constructed pier on which Uhl's work was to be done: Gallivan v. Wark, 288 Pa. 443; Kelly v. Northampton, etc., Society, 286 Pa. 97. See Anderson v. London, etc., Co., 295 Pa. 368. The questions submitted to the jury were: (1) was the construction sufficiently strong to stand the stress and strain of the steel work to be erected, (2) was such construction built by Dunn according to [***4] Levinson's plans and specifications, and (3) did Levinson exercise due care in preparing such plans and specifications. The jury found for the plaintiff but the court below entered judgment n.o.v., holding Levinson an employer within the Compensation Act and not responsible in damages.
This appeal by McDonald presents an oft recurring difficulty. On the one hand we have persons before us, [*292] such as Levinson, endeavoring to escape the effect of the Compensation Act so that they will not be compelled to pay compensation or carry insurance, and, on the other hand, as here, when faced with liability at common law, they strive vigorously to come under the sheltering protection of the act. Appellee is now endeavoring to do the latter as a statutory employer.
] A statutory employer is a master who is not a contractual or common law one but is made one by the act. There is no difficulty in determining in most cases whether or not one is a statutory employer. The law has been fairly well settled by this court, and the zones of liability or nonliability rather well defined. There are cases, however, like the one before us, where no clear chart has been laid down, although many [***5] of the decisions are helpful. It will be better for the efficient administration of the Compensation Act to construe it literally as to the obligations created, leaving those under the common law that were apparently intended to be so, and under the Compensation Act those intended.
Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.
302 Pa. 287 *; 153 A. 424 **; 1930 Pa. LEXIS 552 ***
McDonald, Appellant, v. Levinson Steel Co.
Prior History: [***1] Appeal, No. 203, March T., 1930, by plaintiff, from judgment of C.P. Allegheny Co., Oct. T., 1928, No. 1396, for defendant n.o.v., in case of Howard C. McDonald v. Levinson Steel Company. Reversed.
Trespass at common law for personal injuries. Before MACFARLANE, J.
The opinion of the Supreme Court states the facts.
The portions of the Workmen's Compensation Act of June 2, 1912, P.L. 736, construed by the Supreme Court in its opinion, are:
Article I, section 105, reads: "The term 'contractor' as used in article two, section two hundred and three, and article three, section three hundred and two (b), shall not include a contractor engaged in an independent business, other than that of supplying laborers or assistants, in which he serves persons other than the employer in whose service the accident occurs, but shall include a subcontractor to whom a principal contractor has sublet any part of the work which such principal contractor has undertaken."
Article II, section 203, reads: "An employer, who permits the entry, upon premises occupied by him or under his control, of a laborer or an assistant hired by an employee or contractor, for the performance upon such premises of [***2] a part of the employer's regular business entrusted to such employee or contractor, shall be liable to such laborer or assistant in the same manner and to the same extent as to his own employee."
Article III, section 302 (b), reads: "An employer who permits the entry, upon premises occupied by him or under his control, of a laborer or an assistant hired by an employee or contractor, for the performance upon such premises of a part of the employer's regular business entrusted to that employee or contractor, shall be conclusively presumed to have agreed to pay to such laborer or assistant compensation in accordance with the provisions of article three, unless the employer shall post in a conspicuous place," [etc.].
Verdict for plaintiff for $20,000. Judgment was entered for defendant n.o.v. by MACFARLANE and MARSHALL, JJ.
Error assigned was judgment for defendant n.o.v., quoting record.
Disposition: The judgment of the court below is reversed and it is directed that judgment be entered on the verdict. Costs to be paid by appellee.
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