Appeals, Nos. 243 and 244, April T., 1954, from judgment of County Court of Allegheny County, 1953, No. A 972, in case of Mrs. Ethel Castor v. Frank J. Ruffing and Travelers Insurance Co. Judgment affirmed.
John T. Conner, with him Dalzell, Pringle, Bredin & Martin, for appellants.
J. A. Williams, with him Vesely & Williams, for appellee.
Before Rhodes, P. J., Hirt, Ross, Gunther, Wright and Ervin, JJ. (woodside, J., absent).
[ 178 Pa. Super. Page 126]
In this workmen's compensation case, the employer and his insurance carrier have appealed from a judgment entered on an award of compensation in favor of the widow and children of Elmer Castor, who died while performing work for his employer.
Castor was employed by the defendant, Frank J. Ruffing, as a plumber. On June 20, 1952 he was engaged in installing a hot water heater in the boiler room in the Regent Square School in Pittsburgh. It was a hot day, the temperature varying from 79 degrees at 4 a.m. to a maximum of 99 degrees at 2 p.m. The evidence with respect to the nature of Castor's work, the conditions under which he was performing it and his movements on the day of his death was given by James A. Bigger, custodian of the school. Bigger testified that in installing the heater Castor was using a heavy ball pin hammer "to punch holes in concrete" and that he was "having difficulty... putting holes in the concrete". He testified further that the only ventilation in the boiler room was through a small door and that there was "no circulation of air at any time down there". Bigger saw Castor for the first time that day at 8 a.m., at which time there was nothing unusual about Castor's appearance. He next saw the deceased about 10 or 10:30 a.m., at which time the latter was at work in the boiler room and "he was sweating and you could tell he was overheated". Between 3:30 and 3:50 p.m. Bigger went down to the boiler room, found Castor lying on the floor and called for a police ambulance, which took Castor to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. Between 3 and 4 p.m. the temperature was 97 degrees.
[ 178 Pa. Super. Page 127]
The appellants, conceding arguendo that Castor died from heat exhaustion,*fn1 contend that "where the only accident alleged is the pathological result from exposure to heat and where the exposure during the course of his employment was less than he would otherwise have been exposed to had he not been so employed" decedent's death is not compensable. This argument is based upon defendant's assumption that the evidence indicates that "decedent was working in a cool spot which was cooler than the rest of the building and cooler than outside". This assumption is based upon certain testimony given by Bigger on cross-examination to the effect that it was warmer outside the building than it was in the boiler room. Bigger, however, was cutting grass on the day in question and his statement can be taken to mean only that the boiler room seemed comparatively cooler to a man who had been working in the sun. A complete answer to this contention of the appellants lies in the well-established principle that the compensation authorities having found in favor of the claimant, the evidence is to be read in the light most favorable to her (Hockenberry v. State Workmen's Insurance Fund, 133 Pa. Superior Ct. 249, 2 A.2d 536), and she is to be given the benefit of all inferences reasonably deducible therefrom. Schubert v. Oswald & Hess Co., 161 Pa. Superior Ct. 309, 54 A.2d 113.
Though not as extreme, Castor's working conditions were similar to those of the claimant in Toland v. Murphy Brothers, 172 Pa. Superior Ct. 484, 94 A.2d 156. In that case the claimant suffered a heat stroke while painting a small toilet room in which there was "little
[ 178 Pa. Super. Page 128]
or no circulation of air". There was medical testimony - which this Court deemed it important to quote, at page 487 - to the effect that "it is generally accepted that if it is hot and humid and no circulation of air that there is more of a tendency toward these heat conditions than there is if the temperature, let us say, is higher and you are outside and there is a little wind blowing". Here we have an employe performing difficult work in a room which the compensation ...