Case Law Update

October 15, 2014

Marazas v. WCAB (Vitas Healthcare Corp.), __ A.3d __ (Pa. Cmwlth. No. 337 C.D. 2014, Filed August 11, 2014).

 

In Marazas, the claimant was injured after informing his manager that he was quitting. The manager then instructed the claimant to remove his personal belongings from his vehicle. The claimant complied and injured himself afterwards, while still on the employer’s premises. 

 

The claimant initially filed a civil suit, which he later withdrew, after the employer pled that he was in the scope of employment at the time of the injury and that claimant’s exclusive remedy was under the Act. The claimant then filed a claim petition.  During the workers’ compensation proceedings, the employer argued that the claimant was not an employee in the course and scope of employment, since he had quit before the injury had occurred. 

 

The claimant argued that under the doctrine of judicial estoppel, the employer should have been bound by the prior inconsistent statements contained in the civil pleadings. However, for judicial estoppel to attach, the claimant was required to show that the position asserted had been “successfully maintained.” Based on the claimant’s voluntary withdrawal of the civil suit, the doctrine was not applied. 

 

On the issue of whether claimant was in the course and scope at the time of his injury, the Court observed that under Section 301(c)of the Act, a claimant who quits his job is still within the course and scope of his employment if he is injured (1) on the employer’s premises and (2) is furthering the employer’s interests at the time of the injury.  Here, the claimant satisfied both elements and demonstrated that he was in the course and scope of his employment at the time of his injury, because he was on the employer’s premises and furthering the employer’s interests by acting at the employer’s direction.

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