Appeal, No. 321, Oct. T., 1960, from judgment of Court of Common Pleas No. 7 of Philadelphia County, Sept. T., 1959, No. 1834, in case of Clara Blasczak, widow of Stanley Blasczak, deceased v. Crown Cork & Seal Company, Inc. et al. Judgment affirmed. Appeal by defendants from award by Workmen's Compensation Board.
Peter P. Liebert, 3rd, with him John J. McDevitt, 3rd, for appellants.
Joseph Alessandroni, for appellee.
Before Rhodes, P.j., Wright, Woodside, Ervin, Watkins, and Montgomery, JJ. (gunther, J., absent).
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This is a workmen's compensation case. Stanley Blasczak suffered a compensable injury necessitating the amputation of his leg. Four and a half months later, on the day he was to be fitted with an artificial limb, he hanged himself. The insurance carrier paid compensation to the date of his death, but not thereafter. Blasczak's widow then filed this claim. The referee and the board granted compensation, and the court below affirmed the board's decision.
The Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act, as reenacted and amended by the Act of June 21, 1939, P.L. 520, 524, provides in section 301(a), 77 P.S. § 431, that "no compensation shall be paid when the injury or death is intentionally self inflicted ... but the burden of proof of such fact shall be upon the employer."*fn1
It has been held that if the deceased "killed himself while possessed by an uncontrollable insane impulse or while in a delirium or frenzy, as a direct result of
[ 193 Pa. Super. Page 424]
the accident without rational knowledge of the physical consequences of his act," the death was not intentionally self inflicted, and the dependents can recover workmen's compensation. Widdis v. Collingdale Millwork Co., 169 Pa. Superior Ct. 612, 614, 84 A.2d 259 (1951); Lupfer v. Baldwin Locomotive Works, 269 Pa. 275, 112 A. 458 (1921); Cubit v. Philadelphia, 138 Pa. Superior Ct. 325, 326, 10 A.2d 853 (1940).
The burden is upon the employer to establish that the death was a suicide (see statute, supra), but when the suicide is admitted by the claimant, as it was here, the burden is upon the claimant to show that the deceased "killed himself while possessed by an uncontrollable insane impulse or while in a delirium or frenzy, as a direct result of the accident without rational knowledge of the physical consequences of his act". Kasman v. Hillman C. & C. Co., 149 Pa. Superior Ct. 263, 266, 27 A.2d 762 (1942); Widdis v. Collingdale Millwork Co., supra.
This is a question of fact for the board. We must sustain the board's findings of fact if there is competent evidence to support them. Koza v. U.S. Steel Corp., 190 Pa. Superior Ct. 70, 151 A.2d 823 (1959); Chuplis v. Steve Shalamanda ...