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March 22, 1961


Appeal, No. 139, April T., 1960, from judgment of County Court of Allegheny County, No. A-2163 of 1959, in case of Mrs. Hazel E. Baur, widow of Frank W. Baur, v. Mesta Machine Company et al. Judgment reversed. reversed.


Henry E. Rea, Jr., with him Brandt, Reister, Brandt & Malone, for appellants.

Clyde E. Donaldson, for appellee.

Thomas Lewis Jones, for amicus curiae.

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

Author: Woodside

[ 195 Pa. Super. Page 24]


The widow of Frank Baur, a steel company employee who died of a coronary occlusion suffered while in the course of his employment, was denied compensation by the Workmen's Compensation Board on the ground that the deceased suffered no accident. The County Court of Allegheny County reversed the board and granted compensation, and the insurance carrier appealed to this Court.

The only question is whether the board was guilty of a capricious disregard of competent evidence in finding that there was no accident.

[ 195 Pa. Super. Page 25]

Frank Baur, aged 45, was employed as a steel chipper by the Mesta Machine Company. On February 29, 1956, he began work at 3 o'clock in the afternoon, intending to work an eight hour day. He started work by performing a task less strenuous than his usual employment. While engaged in this less strenuous task, he became ill and went to a dispensary, or first aid station, which the employer operates on plant property. A registered nurse is on duty at the dispensary when the plant is in operation, and a physician visits it for approximately two hours every afternoon.

When Baur arrived at the dispensary it was 4:15 P.M., and a male registered nurse was on duty. According to the evidence presented by the claimant, Baur walked into the first aid room "complaining of diarrhea and vomiting and pains in his stomach and chest pains when on deep breathing and also chills." He told the nurse he had been under a doctor's care for a virus condition, and the nurse suggested that maybe he still had a virus and that he should see his family doctor who had been treating him. The nurse had him lie on a cot, and about an hour and a half later gave him a teaspoonful of citrus carbonate. While Baur was at the dispensary, he had two bowel movements and he vomited. The nurse checked his pulse several times. Although, according to the nurse, "he got over his initial shock," he, nevertheless, remained ill, and the nurse called a taxi to take him home. The nurse called Baur's wife and told her he was sending her husband home in a taxi, and that she should get a doctor and have him waiting at the house. A fellow employe brought Baur's street clothes to the dispensary, and after he had changed from his working clothes, Baur walked with his fellow employe to the cab. It was then approximately 6:10 o'clock. While taking Baur home, the cab driver noticed his passenger was unconscious, so he drove directly to a hospital where Baur was pronounced

[ 195 Pa. Super. Page 26]

    dead. It was determined that he died from a coronary occlusion.

Baur's widow filed this claim for workmen's compensation, and also brought a suit against the employer in trespass. A demurrer to the trespass action was sustained by the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, and affirmed by the Supreme Court. Baur v. Mesta Machine Company, 393 Pa. 380, 143 A.2d 12 (1958). We are here concerned with the workmen's compensation case.

The Workmen's Compensation Act of June 21, 1939, P.L. 520, § 301(a), 77 P.S. § 431, provides that "... compensation for personal injury to, or for the death of [an] employe, by an accident in the course of his employment, shall be paid in all cases by the employer, without regard to negligence, ..." (Emphasis supplied.) The Act further provides in § 301(c), as amended, 77 P.S. § 411: "The terms 'injury' and 'personal injury,' as used in this act, shall be construed to mean only violence to the physical structure of the body, and such disease or infection as naturally result therefrom;".

The board here found there was no accident. Disability overtaking an employe at work is not compensable unless it is the result of an accident, and the accident cannot be inferred merely from the injury or death. Good v. Pa. Dept. of Property & Supplies, 346 Pa. 151, 30 A.2d 434 (1943); Hamilton v. Albert M. Greenfield, Inc., 184 Pa. Superior Ct. 443, 135 A.2d 797 (1957); Rosso v. Aetna Steel Products Corp., 174 Pa. Superior Ct. 258, 101 A.2d 392 (1953); Landis v. General Motors Corp., 180 Pa. Superior Ct. 332, 119 A.2d 2d 645 (1956).

A heart attack is an injury, but it is not an accident, although it may be the result of an accident either by a direct or an indirect trauma or by an unusual exertion. Bonaduce v. Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line

[ 195 Pa. Super. Page 27]

    and accepted the contention of the employer, who argued that there was an accident under the allegations of the plaintiff's claim in trespass.*fn1 The Court held that if death was directly due to the neglect of the employer in not providing proper medical care ...

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