Appeal from order of Court of Common Pleas No. 4 of Philadelphia County, March T., 1964, No. 2290, in case of Martin McCann v. Cross Brothers Meat Packers, Inc. et al.
Raymond J. Porreca, for appellants.
Don F. D'Agui, with him Albert Ring, and D'Agui and Del Collo, for appellee.
Ervin, P. J., Wright, Watkins, Montgomery, Jacobs, and Hoffman, JJ. (Flood, J., absent). Opinion by Watkins, J.
[ 205 Pa. Super. Page 256]
This is an appeal by the employer and its insurance carrier from an order of the Court of Common Pleas No. 4 of Philadelphia County, dismissing an appeal from an award by the Workmen's Compensation Board. The Referee awarded compensation; the Board affirmed the Referee; and the Court of Common Pleas sustained the Board.
The claimant, Martin McCann, age 19 and single, was last employed on February 13, 1961, by Cross Brothers Meat Packers, Inc. Until that time he was always apparently in good health and able to perform his duties as a meat packer. At about 4:30 a.m., on
[ 205 Pa. Super. Page 257]
February 13, 1961, there is evidence that a leak developed in the refrigeration system permitting ammonia fumes to escape into a working area. He smelled the fumes; his eyes watered; he became dazed and woozy and began coughing; at about 8:00 a.m., when he went to change his clothes he collapsed into a state of unconsciousness. He was taken to the Episcopal Hospital where subsequent surgery revealed a ruptured aneurysm in one of the arteries of the brain. Since that date he has been completely and permanently disabled due to a partial paralysis and convulsive seizures resulting from the brain damage.
The contention of the appellants that the claimant did not give notice of the accident within the statutory period is without merit. Section 311 of the Act of June 2, 1915, P. L. 736, as amended, 77 P.S. § 631. This claimant was overcome at his place of work and removed to the hospital so that actual notice of the occurrence was brought home to his employer, through its agents. The claimant's supervisor, Mr. Stackhouse, visited the claimant in the hospital and representatives of the insurance carrier appellant interviewed the claimant and members of his family. "It would not come with good grace for an employer who had actual knowledge of a compensable injury to his employee at the time of its occurrence to endeavor to escape liability because he had not been served with formal notice of the occurrence of the injury." Wilkinson v. United Par. Serv., 158 Pa. Superior Ct. 22, 43 A.2d 408 (1945). Courts should not read into the Workmen's Compensation Act a stricter requirement than the language of the Act imports in regard to notice of an accident. It must be liberally construed. The purpose of the notice is to protect the employer from stale claims made for accidental injuries after the opportunity for a full and complete examination is passed. Such was not the case here. Allen v. Patterson-Emerson-Comstock,
[ 205 Pa. Super. Page 258180]
Pa. Superior Ct. 286, 119 A.2d 832 (1956); Santillo v. Pbgh. Rwys. Co., 181 Pa. Superior Ct. 266, 124 A.2d 657 (1956).
The second contention of the appellants was that there was no evidence of an accident. There was testimony by the claimant and his brother that a leak developed in the refrigeration system causing ammonia to be released into the working area. That they both smelled ammonia; that the claimant's eyes watered; that he became woozy; that the ammonia induced coughing; about 8:00 a.m., that morning the claimant blacked out. The leak from which the gas escaped was located immediately above his working table so that the fumes were concentrated there. We agree with the court below that there was ...