Appeals, Nos. 348 and ,359, Oct. T., 1962, from order of Court of Common Pleas of Clearfield County, Nov. T., 1961, No. 169, in case of Natale Ferlazzo v. Harbison-Walker Refractories Company et al. Order reversed.
Edward T. Kelley, for claimant.
Murray J. Jordan, with him Fred J. Jordan, for defendants.
Before Rhodes, P.j., Ervin, Wright, Watkins, Montgomery, and Flood, JJ. (woodside, J., absent).
[ 200 Pa. Super. Page 391]
The claimant, Natale Ferlazzo, in this workmen's compensation case, seeks benefits for an alleged accidental injury resulting in a "hurt back". The Referee awarded benefits, including medical and hospital reimbursement, despite the fact that the Blue Cross and Blue Shield had paid these costs. The premiums for the coverage had been paid by the employer.
[ 200 Pa. Super. Page 392]
The Workmen's Compensation Board reversed, setting aside the findings of fact, conclusions of law, and the award of benefits by the referee. The board substituted its own findings of fact and conclusions of law, entering an order of disallowance on the ground that the claimant did not sustain an accident and that there was not sufficient competent evidence to establish disability from an accident sustained in the course of his employment; and further that there is no provision in the Workmen's Compensation law for reimbursement for medical and hospital benefits paid by the Blue Cross and the Blue Shield.
The Court of Common Pleas of Clearfield County reversed the findings of fact and order of disallowance made by the board, and, in effect, reinstated the findings of the referee. However, the court below affirmed the workmen's compensation board's disallowance of the sums paid by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield.
The claimant appealed from the disallowance of the medical and hospital costs to No. 359 October Term, 1962; the employer appealed from the allowance of compensation to No. 348 October Term, 1962.
The court below was under a misapprehension as to the scope of judicial review. "When a claim goes to the courts the appeal is not from the findings of the referee, but from the findings and conclusions of the board." Lorigan v. W. O. Gulbranson, Inc., 184 Pa. Superior Ct. 251, 254, 132 A.2d 695 (1957). The board is the final arbiter of facts, the referee is only an agent of the board and the board may reject, change or adopt the findings of the referee. Rodgers v. Methodist Episcopal Hospital, 188 Pa. Superior Ct. 16, 145 A.2d 893 (1958). Here, when the board substituted its own findings for those of the referee, his findings ...