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OLIVER v. WESTINGHOUSE ELECTRIC CORPORATION. (06/11/58)

June 11, 1958

OLIVER, APPELLANT,
v.
WESTINGHOUSE ELECTRIC CORPORATION.



Appeal, No. 49, April T., 1958, from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Mercer County, Sept. T., 1957, No. 18, in case of Norman Oliver v. Westinghouse Electric Corporation. Judgment vacated.

COUNSEL

Marc L. Marks, with him B. H. Marks, and Marks & Marks, for appellant.

W. Allen Dill, with him Fruit & Francis, for appellee.

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

Author: Wright

[ 186 Pa. Super. Page 606]

OPINION BY WRIGHT, J.

Norman Oliver, claimant in this workmen's compensation case, was injured on June 18, 1955, in the course of his employment with Westinghouse Electric Corporation, when a steel chip penetrated his right eye. The Referee found as a fact that claimant had lost the use of his right eye for all practical intents and purposes, and made an award for the loss of the eye under Section 306(c) of the Workmen's Compensation Law.*fn1 Upon the employer's appeal to the Board, the findings of fact, conclusions of law and award of the Referee were affirmed. An appeal was then taken by the employer to the Court of Common Pleas of Mercer County, which tribunal reversed the Board and directed the entry of judgment in favor of the employer. Claimant has appealed.

It is well settled that (1) the Workmen's Compensation Law is a remedial statute and is to receive a liberal construction; (2) findings of fact by the compensation authorities, if supported by the evidence, are binding upon the courts; and (3) on appeal from an award the evidence must be viewed in the light most favorable to the claimant: Spry v. Polt, 186 Pa. Superior Ct. 326, 142 A.2d 484. Judicial review in the instant case must be confined to ascertaining whether the findings of fact of the compensation authorities are supported by the evidence: Spina v. Gahagan Construction Corp., 184 Pa. Superior Ct. 420, 135 A.2d 760.

Section 306 (c) of the statute provides, inter alia, that "permanent loss of the use" of an eye "shall be considered as the equivalent of the loss" of such eye.

[ 186 Pa. Super. Page 607]

By settled judicial construction this language means that the permanent loss of use of the eye "for all practical intents and purposes" amounts to the loss of the eye: Stachowski v. Incorporated Real Estate Investors, 174 Pa. Superior Ct. 152, 100 A.2d 140. And see Curran v. Knipe & Sons, 185 Pa. Superior Ct. 540, 138 A.2d 251. In our most recent eye case, McClemens v. Penn Auto Parts, 181 Pa. Superior Ct. 542, 124 A.2d 623, we reviewed the earlier authorities and stated the correct test to be whether the use of the injured eye, without correcting lens, contributes "materially" to claimant's vision in conjunction with the use of the normal eye.

In the case at bar, the only witnesses were the claimant and Dr. Ransford J. Riddle, a specialist in ophthalmology, to whom claimant had been referred by the company doctor. The employer called no witnesses. Claimant testified that "everything is hazy... I have no sense of balance or depth and, with the good eye closed, I cannot distinguish objects".

Dr. Riddle testified as follows: The steel chip had penetrated the cornea and had become "imbedded" in the lens. Immediate surgery was performed which consisted "of making a small incision into the eye, placing a magnet in position and recovering this piece of steel", and also washing out an eye lash "carried through on this piece of steel and in the anterior chamber of the eye; it was right on the iris, in other words". Subsequently a cataract formed and was removed. Claimant does not have "practical use of this eye - for all practical intents and purposes". Without a correcting lens, claimant has only 2/400 or "minimal" vision. Even with a correcting lens, ...


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