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SEMONOVICH v. ROCHESTER AND PITTSBURGH COAL COMPANY. (06/11/58)

June 11, 1958

SEMONOVICH, APPELLANT,
v.
ROCHESTER AND PITTSBURGH COAL COMPANY.



Appeal, No. 8, April T., 1957, from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Indiana County, Sept. T., 1956, No. 35, in case of Mrs. Imogene Semonovich, widow of Mike Semonovich, deceased, v. Rochester and Pittsburgh Coal Company. Judgment reversed.

COUNSEL

Harry B. Hogemyer, with him Leland C. Phillips, and Arnold D. Smorto, for appellant.

G. W. Musser, for appellee.

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

Author: Watkins

[ 186 Pa. Super. Page 487]

OPINION BY WATKINS, J.

This is an appeal in a workmen's compensation case from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Indiana County, reversing the workmen's compensation board and denying benefits to the appellant, Imogene Semonovich, widow of Mike Semonovich, deceased, on the ground that the decedent violated mining laws.

Mike Semonovich, the decedent, on August 27, 1954, in the course of his employment by the Rochester and Pittsburgh Coal Company, the appellee, as a fire boss, was killed in a mine explosion. The appellee denied liability for the reason that the decedent violated the

[ 186 Pa. Super. Page 488]

Pennsylvania and Federal Mine laws and that as a result of the said alleged violation, the explosion occurred that caused his death. The referee found for the claimant, the workmen's compensation board affirmed the referee and on appeal the court below reversed the workmen's compensation board.

The decedent was 36 years of age and had been employed by the same company for twenty years. He was an experienced fire boss. The duties of a fire boss include the checking of the working areas for gas and other danger, prior to the time the men enter the mine. He was so engaged on the morning of the tragedy. By his markings made in the working areas, his course was traced from where he entered the mine on foot, secured an electric motor, made inspections, until he came to the working area known as section 17 South.

This case then turns on whether the decedent drove the electric motor into this working area, bringing about the explosion that caused his death. The referee found as facts that the explosion occurred in 17 South; that the electric motor that had been used by the decedent was found after the explosion in that area; that the decedent's hat was found 3100 feet from where his body was found; that his body was found 153 feet from the locomotive; and that the explosion was caused by a spark from the trolley wire in 17 South, that ignited an accumulation of methane gas.

The bituminous mining law, Section 6, Art. XI of the Act of June 9, 1911, P.L. 756, as amended by the Act of July 1, 1937, P.L. 2486, § 27, 52 PS § 1161, provides: "Electric haulage by locomotive operated from a trolley wire, is not permissible in any gaseous portion of a mine,... except when the portion in which the locomotive operates is free of accumulated explosive ...


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