Work-Related Injury Caused by Exposure to Abnormal Working Conditions In Prison

In Cantarella v. Department of Corrections/SCI Waymart, 835 A.2d 870 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2003), petition for allowance of appeal denied, 578 Pa. 702, 852 A.2d 313 (2004), the claimant was granted workers' compensation benefits by a Workers' Compensation Judge (WCJ) on the grounds that she suffered a work-related injury caused by abnormal working conditions. While the decision regarding Claimant's workers' compensation benefits was on appeal, this Court upheld the denial of Act 632 benefits by Department of Corrections (DOC) from an injury alleged to have been caused by abnormal working conditions because the inmate's touching of the buttocks of the claimant was not an abnormal working condition for the claimant, who was a food-service worker. Specifically, the Court rejected the claimant's argument that, because she was food-service worker rather than a corrections officer, a lesser standard of abnormality should be used in deciding whether she was exposed to abnormal working conditions. In dicta and in a footnote, Cantarella also states that collateral estoppel was inapplicable because the issue involved a distinction between Act 632 benefits and workers' compensation benefits.