Dobransky v. EQT

An en banc panel of the Pennsylvania Superior Court determined that Appellees were not immune from liability because they did not qualify as statutory employers under the Workers’ Compensation Act (WCA). This case arose from injuries sustained from Appellant’s exposure to barite at a natural-gas site leased and operated by Defendant EQT. To drill and produce natural gas, EQT subcontracted with numerous companies. Appellant worked as a truck driver for one of the subcontractors. Appellant was delivering barite to the site and unloading the barite into a storage tank when a cap blew off, releasing barite onto Appellant’s face and person. As a result of his exposure to the barite, Appellant alleged that he sustained severe injuries, including losing nearly half of his lung capacity. Thus, Appellant filed a negligence action. Appellees filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that they were statutory employers under Section 302(a) of the WCA. The trial court granted the motion. A divided three-judge panel of the Superior Court vacated the trial court’s order. The Court’s en banc panel agreed. The Court applied the case’s facts and concluded that conclude that Appellees did “not indisputably demonstrate that they qualify as Appellant’s statutory employers under either Section 302(a)(1)(i) or Section 302(a)(2).

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