James McDermott v. Brand Industrial Services, Inc.; 518 C.D. 2018; filed Jan. 18, 2019; Judge Ceisler

Because the claimant’s employment was exclusively in Delaware at the time of the work injury, the dismissal of his claim for lack of jurisdiction under § 305.2 (a)(1) of the Act was proper.

The claimant worked as a union carpenter for the employer, who had a permanent job site located within an oil refinery in the state of Delaware. While working at the employer’s Delaware facility, the claimant was injured. The employer accepted the injury under Delaware workers’ compensation law. Later, the claimant filed a claim petition in Pennsylvania and then a penalty petition, alleging the employer violated the Act by failing to accept or deny his claim within 21 days. The employer filed answers to the petitions and challenged jurisdiction for any work injury under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act. The employer contended that the claimant was not employed in Pennsylvania and jurisdiction for the injury lay in Delaware.

The workers’ compensation judge dismissed the claimant’s petitions, concluding that the claimant’s employment was principally localized in Delaware on the date of his injury and, therefore, Pennsylvania lacked jurisdiction. While the claimant worked for the employer at several of its job sites, and in the year 2015 had spent 90 percent of his work time in Pennsylvania, his employment was not continuous. Just prior to beginning work for the employer in Delaware, the claimant had been laid off by the employer, which the judge determined was the end of his working relationship with the employer in Pennsylvania. The claimant appealed to the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board, and they affirmed.

On appeal to the Commonwealth Court, the claimant argued that the workers’ compensation judge erred in determining that his employment was principally localize in Delaware at the time of injury. The court rejected the claimant’s arguments and dismissed the appeal. In doing so, the court noted that the claimant performed several distinct jobs for the employer, each of which was separated by periods of layoff. At times, the claimant worked for other employers during the layoffs. According to the court, the claimant did not establish that his work for the employer was part of a continuous period of employment and held that, at the time of injury, the claimant worked exclusively in Delaware. 


Case Law Alerts, 3rd Quarter, July 2019

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