Somerset Legal Journal headnotes from approximately 1991 through the present.

For earlier cases, please visit the Somerset County Law Library.




The exclusivity provision of the Workers' Compensation Act (WCA), 77 P.S. § 481 (a) provides that the liability of an employer under this act shall be exclusive and in place of any and all other liability to such employees, his legal representative, husband or wife, parents, dependents, next of kin or anyone otherwise entitled to damages in any action at law or otherwise an account of any injury or death or occupational disease.  Zerfoss, et al. v. Borriello, et al. 59 Som.L.J. 427 (2002) (Gibson, J.). 


When presented with a situation where a plaintiff has filed both a civil negligence action and a WCA claim against the plaintiff's employer, the employee's common law action is not barred by the exclusivity provision of the WCA until there has been a final determination that the injury or disease in question is cognizable under the WCA.  Zerfoss, et al. v. Borriello, et al. 59 Som.L.J. 427 (2002) (Gibson, J.). 


Under the guidance provided by Lord Corporation v. Pollard, 548 Pa. 124, 695 A.2d 767 (1997), the trial court shall stay all proceedings in the civil action pending final disposition of the WCA claims.  Zerfoss, et al. v. Borriello, et al. 59 Som.L.J. 427 (2002) (Gibson, J.). 




A contractor who subcontracts all or any part of a contract and his insurer shall be liable for the payment of compensation to the employees of the subcontractor unless the subcontractor primarily liable for the payment of such compensation has secured its payment as provided for in this act.  Any contractor or his insurer who shall become liable hereunder for such compensation may recover the amount thereof paid and any necessary expenses from the subcontractor primarily liable therefor.  Commonwealth v. Lepley, 62 Som.L.J. 302 (2005) (Cascio, J.). 


A person who contracts with another (1) to have work performed consisting of...or (ii) the cutting or removal of timber from lands, or (2) to have work performed of a kind which is a regular or recurrent part of the business, occupation, profession or trade of such person shall be deemed a contractor, and such other person a subcontractor.  Commonwealth v. Lepley, 62 Som.L.J. 302 (2005) (Cascio, J.). 


An employer desiring to be exempt from insuring the whole or any part of his liability for compensation shall make application to the department, showing his financial ability to pay such compensation, whereupon the department, if satisfied of the applicant's financial ability, shall, upon payment of a fee of five hundred ($500), issue to the applicant a permit authorizing such exemption.  Commonwealth v. Lepley, 62 Som.L.J. 302 (2005) (Cascio, J.). 


When any employer fails to secure the payment of compensation under this act [77 P.S. § 501 (d)]...the injured employee or his dependents may proceed either under this act or in a suit for damages at law.   Commonwealth v. Lepley, 62 Som.L.J. 302 (2005) (Cascio, J.). 


Any employer who fails to comply with the provisions of this section [77 P.S. § 501 (b)] for every such failure, shall, upon conviction in the court of common pleas, be guilty of a misdemeanor of the third degree.  A judge of the court of common pleas may, in addition to imposing fines and imprisonment, include restitution in his order: Provided, That there is an injured employee who has obtained an award of compensation. Commonwealth v. Lepley, 62 Som.L.J. 302 (2005) (Cascio, J.).