Graves v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board (Philadelphia Housing Authority)

983 A.2d 241 (2009)

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Graves v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Philadelphia Housing Authority)

Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court
983 A.2d 241 (2009)

Facts

Lionell Graves (plaintiff) was employed by the Philadelphia Housing Authority (defendant) as a patrolman. On April 22, 2006, Graves went out with friends wearing street clothes, driving his own vehicle, and carrying a personal gun. Later that night, Graves left his friends to attend a private party at a bar. At the door, Graves advised the bouncer that he was an off-duty officer and was carrying a gun. Graves attended the party, and someone named Dante arrived. Dante had a bulge on his side and argued with the owner. At that time, Graves announced he was a police officer, told Dante to leave, and told the owner to call 911. Dante left, and Graves left shortly after. Graves left the building and was encountered by Dante, who was pointing a gun at him. Without drawing his gun, Graves walked toward Dante. Dante shot Graves in the hip and groin. Graves fell back into the bar and shut the door. Dante fired shots through the door, hitting Graves in the elbow and hitting the bouncer. The police took Graves to the hospital to treat his injuries. Graves filed for workers’-compensation benefits. At a hearing, Graves testified regarding how the incident occurred. John Haggerty, assistant police chief, provided testimony and a report on his findings after the incident was investigated. Haggerty insisted Graves acted as a bouncer at the bar, not as a police officer, basing this opinion solely on Graves's own testimony. Haggerty testified that Graves did not take any police action and was not following proper police procedure during the incident. The workers’-compensation judge (WCJ) found Graves’s testimony incredible except for his testimony on the gunshot wounds. The WCJ found Graves was acting as a civilian, not as a police officer, and was not acting within the course and scope of his job when he was injured. Relying on Haggerty’s testimony, the WCJ denied Graves’s claim. The Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (the board) affirmed the denial of benefits. Graves filed a petition for review of the board’s decision.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Leavitt, J.)

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