Commonwealth Court sides with amputee making Workers' Comp claim

By Carrie Salls | Mar 21, 2017

HARRISBURG — The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania recently upheld the granting of a Workers’ Compensation claim to a woman whose leg had to be partially amputated after a luggage transporter she was driving at Pittsburgh International Airport overturned.

Ramp agent lead Modesty Colquitt was driving the cart to meet her mother when the accident occurred on Sept. 2, 2014. Colquitt had called her mother to bring feminine products because she had forgotten to bring her wallet to the terminal.


In defense of the claim filed with the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board, Colquitt’s employer, Starr Aviation, argued that her injuries resulted from actions that were “not in the course of her employment,” although Colquitt claimed that her actions were in the scope of her employment and said she had permission from a supervisor to take the cart to pick up the personal items.


In its decision granting Colquitt’s claim, the board said her job performance would have been affected by her menstrual cycle and her work that day would have been affected if she did not have feminine products.


“The WCJ (workers' compensation judge) found that claimant’s departure from work was temporary, claimant had permission to engage in this departure, and the departure was for the purpose of attending to personal needs and comfort that would allow her to continue her shift,” the decision says.


Starr Aviation offered the testimony of three of Colquitt’s co-workers, one who said that she offered Colquitt some food and money and told her she could find the feminine products she needed in the restroom and break room; one who testified that he offered Colquitt some crackers so she would not need to get her wallet and money from her wallet to buy food; and another who said he had witnessed Colquitt driving the cart “entirely too fast” on the day the accident happened.


However, the Commonwealth Court said the testimony of the three co-workers was not relevant to the compensation claim.

"Importantly, none of Employer’s witnesses proffered testimony that would tend to negate, or call into question, the fact that Claimant began her menstrual cycle while at work," it ruled.

"Pursuant to well-settled case law, it is immaterial whether a reasonable person in Claimant’s shoes would have made other arrangements to meet her personal needs; indeed, any perceived fault in Claimant’s decision to call and make arrangements with her mother is no defense to liability..."

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