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WASHKO v. RUCKNO (03/26/56)

March 26, 1956

WASHKO, APPELLANT,
v.
RUCKNO, INC.



Appeal, No. 12, Feb. T., 1956, from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County, Oct. T., 1955, No. 2588, in case of Mrs. Mary Washko v. George L. Ruckno, Inc. and Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association Casualty Insurance Co. Judgment affirmed.

COUNSEL

John F. Boyle, for appellant.

James P. Harris, for appellee.

Before Rhodes, P.j., Hirt, Gunther, Wright, Woodside, Ervin, and Carr, JJ.

Author: Wright

[ 180 Pa. Super. Page 607]

OPINION BY WRIGHT, J.

This is a workmen's compensation case. Following the death of her husband, Mary Washko filed a claim petition. The Referee made an award which was affirmed by the Board. The lower court reversed and entered judgment for the defendant. This appeal followed.

Michael J. Washko, aged 63, died on November 7, 1953 at 8:45 a.m. while a passenger in a truck driven by John L. Lacina at the intersection of Murray and Shoemaker Streets in Forty Fort. Washko and Lacina were employed as landscape gardeners by George L. Ruckno, Inc. Their usual working day was from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. On the date in question, Washko and Lacina drove to work in the latter's truck, arriving about 7:40 a.m. There had been a severe snow storm and the weather was cold. The snow was approximately a foot deep. Washko and Lacina reported to the superintendent who said: "There would be work for us; our usual work we wouldn't do ... but there is plenty of work to clean up sidewalks and get the place in order". In the meantime other employes were arriving in automobiles. Several of these cars became "all stuck and jammed up". Washko and Lacina were instructed to push these cars around. From 7:50 a.m.

[ 180 Pa. Super. Page 608]

    to 8:15 a.m. they shoveled snow and pushed cars. Lacina testified that his heart was pounding, and that both he and Washko were perspiring. They were then told by the superintendent that there would be no further work. Shortly thereafter, they left the Ruckno premises in Lacina's truck. On the way home Washko breathed heavily and collapsed. Dr. Robert Peters of Forty Fort was summoned immediately and, upon his arrival, found that Washko had expired.

There was no post-mortem examination. The award was based upon a finding by the compensation authorities that Washko died of a heart attack which was caused by overexertion in the course of his employment. The reversal by the lower court was based upon the absence of medical testimony showing any casual connection between the overexertion and the subsequent death. In determining this question, since she has the award, claimant is entitled to have the evidence examined in the light most favorable to her: Nazarey v. Lehigh Valley Coal Co., 131 Pa. Superior Ct. 93, 198 A. 899.

The only medical testimony adduced by claimant was that of Dr. Peters, which was substantially as follows: that Washko died from a heart attack; that the usual kind of heart attack causing sudden death is a coronary occlusion; that it is possible that Washko could have died from a ruptured aorta; that in such event exertion could be the instigating factor, but that an aortic aneurysm can rupture spontaneously; that exertion could also be the instigating factor in causing a coronary occlusion, but that a coronary occlusion can ...


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