Case Brief Essay

Submitted By JenelleMason1
Words: 545
Pages: 3

PECK v. DELAWARE COUNTY BD. OF PRISON, 814 A.2d 185 (Pa. 2002) Facts Corrections officer who worked at a prison through a contractor, Wackenhut Corrections Corporation, brought negligence action against the prison board for injuries to his shoulder sustained when he slipped in a puddle of water and fell while attempting to close a heavy prison door. As a result he suffered injuries requiring two surgeries to his left shoulder. Peck filed a workers’ compensation claim against his employer and sought an award by bringing an action against the Prison Board, alleging that it was negligent in the care, custody and control of the prison premises, and ultimately their negligence resulted in his injuries. Procedural Background The Board moved for summary judgment on the grounds that it enjoyed immunity from suit pursuant to Section 203 of the Workers’ Compensation Act because, the Board claims it qualifies as Appellee’s statutory employer. The trial court granted summary judgment, finding that the Board is statutory employer of Appellee and, therefore, immune from suit. On appeal, the Commonwealth Court reversed, holding that the board is not the statutory employer of Appellee because the Board does not meet the statutory employer test in McDonald v. Levinson Steel Co., 302 Pa. 287, 153 A. 424 (1930), and (2) Appellee is an employee of an independent contractor, Wackenhut. We granted allocatur to examine the statutory employer doctrine in the context of the privatization of a service that was once exclusively a public function: the operation of local prisons. Issue Did the Board, which formerly employed Appellee as a prison corrections officer when it operated and managed the Prison, lose its immunity from suit under the Workers’ Compensation Act when it contracted with Wackenhut to operate and manage the Prison? Brief Answer Yes. We hold that the Board did lose its immunity from suit when it contracted with Wackenhut to operate and manage the prison and, accordingly, affirm the Commonwealth Court. Reasoning Wackenhut has the authority to hire, fire, discipline, and direct its