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GARVIN v. PHILADELPHIA TRANSP. CO. (01/20/53)

January 20, 1953

GARVIN
v.
PHILADELPHIA TRANSP. CO.



COUNSEL

A. F. Barbieri, Philadelphia, for appellant.

George H. Detweiler, Philadelphia, for appellee.

Before Rhodes, P. J., and Hirt, Reno, Dithrich, Ross, Arnold and Gunther, JJ.

Author: Gunther

[ 173 Pa. Super. Page 16]

GUNTHER, Judge.

Claimant was injured July 12, 1946 when he received a severe electric shock while operating defendant's printing press. He suffered little organic physical injury; his claim for compensation is based wholly on a psychoneurosis stemming from the physical and emotional shock. An open agreement was entered into by virtue of which claimant received compensation until August 18, 1946, and a final receipt was executed October 29, 1946. In April, 1947 claimant petitioned to set aside the final receipt, and four hearings were held thereon, the last in June, 1950. The referee set aside the final receipt as having been signed under a mistake of fact and awarded compensation for total disability for several periods from August, 1946 until July, 1947 and partial disability payments for various periods thereafter, with suspensions when claimant's wages equaled or bettered those prior to his injury.

[ 173 Pa. Super. Page 17]

The board sustained the nullification of the final receipt, but ordered termination of compensation as of December 18, 1946, which was the day claimant resumed employment. The court below affirmed the order of the board and entered judgment against the employer for the period August 18, 1946, to December 18, 1946, from which judgment claimant now appeals.

Claimant contends first that the board erroneously placed the burden of proof on claimant to show a continuing disability, whereas, once the final receipt is set aside, the burden shifts to the employer to show termination of disability. Artac v. Union Collieries Co., 140 Pa. Super. 499, 13 A.2d 909. Examination of the board's opinion shows no such error. The board analyzed the medical testimony together with claimant's work record and concluded that all disability ended on a specified date. There is no indication that they imposed upon the claimant the burden of proving his continuing disability.

Claimant further contends that there was insufficient competent evidence of a cessation of disability on the indicated date, and that the board refused further compensation because claimant suffered from a neurosis rather than a physical injury. We are convinced that the board and the court below did not err in either of those respects.

The board, in its opinion, clearly did not hold that a neurosis, if caused by accidental injury, is not compensable. Their conclusion was that claimant was suffering from a neurosis only -- a finding which is undisputed by claimant. The medical testimony fails to show any organic, physical injury. Claimant's rights therefore depend upon whether his continuing nervous disorder was caused by the electric shock he received at employer's printing press.

[ 173 Pa. Super. Page 18]

As the board pointed out, the medical testimony is contradictory; our sole province, therefore, is to ascertain whether the decision is supported by sufficient, competent testimony. Gaich v. Kerlin Construction Co., Inc., 170 Pa. Super. 535, 539, 85 A.2d 642. Claimant was examined by five doctors at various times from August, 1946 to June, 1950. Two of these doctors examined him in August, 1946 and declared him normal. Another doctor examined him in September, 1949 and reported a 50% disability based on a neuropathy of the arm and a psychoneurosis. The last doctor to examine claimant pronounced him normal. Claimant's own medical witness (a Dr. Leavitt) examined him three times: August, 1946, May 1947, and February, 1949. Dr. Leavitt's testimony was that claimant suffered from a psychoneurosis which was partially disabling, though improved on each visit, but no visible ...


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