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HILL v. SPRINGFIELD TOWNSHIP COMMISSIONERS. (09/16/60)

September 16, 1960

HILL, APPELLANT,
v.
SPRINGFIELD TOWNSHIP COMMISSIONERS.



Appeal, No. 27, Oct. T., 1960, from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County, June T., 1959, No. 42, in case of Susie E. Hill, widow of John S. Hill, deceased v. Springfield Township Commissioners et al. Judgment affirmed.

COUNSEL

Alexander F. Barbieri, for appellant.

George D. Sheehan, with him Joseph J. Murphy, Paul J. Senesky, and Murphy & Sheehan, for appellees.

Before Rhodes, P.j., Gunther, Wright, Woodside, Ervin, and Montgomery, JJ. (watkins, J., absent).

Author: Rhodes

[ 193 Pa. Super. Page 13]

OPINION BY RHODES, P.J.

This is a workmen's compensation case arising out of the death of claimant's husband. Claimant alleged that her husband's death from cerebral hemorrhage was the result of an accidental injury in the course of his employment as highway maintenance foreman for the Springfield Township Commissioners, Delaware County. The referee awarded claimant compensation; the board reversed the referee and found that deceased suffered no accident in the course of his employment. The Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County affirmed the board. Claimant has appealed.

The facts are not controverted. Appellant's principal argument is that the uncontradicted facts as a matter of law established the occurrence of an accident. Deceased, John S. Hill, had been employed by defendant, Springfield Township Commissioners, for more

[ 193 Pa. Super. Page 14]

    than twenty years as a highway maintenance foreman, subject to call at any time. On Sunday, October 10, 1954, about 1:30 p.m., while deceased was having dinner at his home he was called to the telephone. After taking the message deceased hurried upstairs, changed his clothes and came down, obtained a shovel and pick, and with another employe, John Tuzza, drove off in deceased's automobile. It appears from the record that the message which brought deceased to the scene was to the effect that a man walking his dog in a field came upon some loose dirt that made him suspicious that a body had been recently buried there. The purpose of the township officials was to investigate this suspicion. The suspicion proved to be wholly unfounded when the excavation was reopened. Deceased did not participate in the digging at the place where it was intimated a body was buried; nor did he participate in refilling the excavation. Two hours later deceased was returned home having suffered a cerebral hemorrhage. He was put to bed, remained in a coma, and was later removed to a hospital where he died on October 12, 1954. Claimant's doctor stated that the cerebral hemorrhage was set in motion by reason of the receipt of the telephone call together with the activity while at the scene which set up an ultimate reaction increasing the blood pressure resulting in the fatality. The testimony indicated that deceased had suffered with high blood pressure for five years prior to his death.

The board substituted three findings of fact*fn1 for those of the referee, and concluded that no accident was

[ 193 Pa. Super. Page 15]

    suffered by deceased in the course of his employment by the defendant. The burden was on claimant to prove to the satisfaction of the board as a final fact finder that deceased's death was caused by or resulted from an accident and not from natural causes. Revilak v. ...


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