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Franczyk v. Home Depot, Inc., 2023 Pa. LEXIS 533, 2023 WL 2992730 (S. Ct. April 19, 2023) (Wecht, J.). Pennsylvania’s Workers’ Compensation Act creates a comprehensive statutory remedy for workplace injuries. The Act reflects a compromise that has prevailed in Pennsylvania for decades: in exchange for their mandatory contributions to a no-fault insurance program, employers avoid the risks and uncertainties of defending against lawsuits arising from such injuries. However, while the Act generally precludes employees from bringing workplace injury claims against their employers, it preserves the employees’ rights to bring negligence claims against third parties who bear some responsibility for employee injuries. When an employee recovers on such a claim, the employer may seek “subrogation,” recouping its workers’ compensation expenses up to the amount recovered from the third party. The WCA’s linchpin is its “exclusivity provision,” which provides that “[t]he liability of any employer under this act shall be exclusive and in place of any and all other liability to such employees . . . in any action at law or otherwise on account of any injury or death . . . or occupational disease.” Over the long history of the Act, our courts have recognized only a few narrow exceptions to this exclusivity. In the instant case, the trial court recognized a novel exception and denied the employer’s motion for summary judgment. The Superior Court affirmed the trial court’s decision. We disagree. The exception proffered by the lower courts cannot be reconciled with the Act’s design, purpose, or plain language. Thus, we reverse. Plaintiff-Respondent Lindsay Franczyk, was working at a Home Depot store when a customer’s dog bit her. Franczyk reported the bite promptly to her supervisors, Philip Rogers and Thomas Mason (collectively with Home Depot, “Defendants”). Defendants investigated, but they barred Franczyk from “hav[ing] any further contact or interaction with the dog owner or any witnesses.” Defendants located and questioned two individuals who (separately) had brought dogs into the store, and also spoke to an eyewitness, but ultimately allowed all of them to leave the store without taking any identifying or contact information. Franczyk later was diagnosed with cubital tunnel syndrome, which required surgical repair. Franczyk claimed and received WCA benefits. Franczyk sued Defendants. In her relevant claim, Franczyk asserts that Defendants failed to investigate the incident sufficiently, and that they negligently allowed the dog owner and witnesses to leave without obtaining identifying information. She contends that these acts and omissions denied her the opportunity to file a third-party suit against the dog owner. Although Defendants provide a lengthy analysis based upon authority drawn from Pennsylvania decisions and from cases in other jurisdictions, that discussion arguably gilds the lily. At a minimum, the WCA has anticipated and foreclosed virtually any sort of negligence claim against an employer “on account of” a physical injury that occurs in the workplace. It is less clear that the negligence claim so excluded must be a claim for personal injury. The legislature’s goal was not to immunize, but merely to cabin, an employer’s obligation to employees for workplace injuries, in recognition of the fact that injuries are an inevitable incident of the workplace. The means chosen to limit that exposure was a system to ensure prompt, reasonable compensation to injured employees while protecting the employer from the burden of case-by-case litigation. Against this statutory backdrop, it is only by categorically divorcing her claim from the injury upon which it is predicated, as in Martin, that Franczyk can hope to establish that her claim lies wholly outside the Act’s strictures. In this attempt, Franczyk fails. Martin’s truly separable injury is not present here. The Superior Court also has looked past the way a claim is framed in order to determine its true basis. Franczyk’s asserted loss is her third-party claim, but the only principled way to determine the damages would be to make an educated guess as to what a jury might have awarded her in compensatory and non-monetary damages. This would require a trial within a trial, with Franczyk asking the jury to imagine itself empaneled in a personal injury case. For practical purposes, Franczyk would sue the absent dog owner for personal injury, and Defendants would be forced to defend against that claim in the dog owner’s stead. Thus, Defendants would litigate precisely the sort of claim that the WCA is supposed to prevent. The architects of the WCA held that the employer need not even indemnify a third party, let alone defend it. The proposed subversion of the WCA’s goals would not end there. Because the WCA generally allows an employer to subrogate against any recovery that the employee obtains from a third-party in a personal injury suit arising from the workplace injury even in the presence of employer misconduct, if Franczyk prevailed against Defendants, either the jury or the judge then might have to consider the effect upon the verdict of Defendants’ right to subrogation.