Appeal from order of Court of Common Pleas No. 1 (tried in C. P. No. 5) of Philadelphia County, June T., 1965, No. 2622, in case of Mervin J. Nevison v. Food Fair Stores, Inc. et al.
Frederick W. Anton, III, with him Paul H. Ferguson and Earl T. Britt, for appellants.
William J. MacDermott, with him David Cohen, for appellee.
Ervin, P. J., Wright, Watkins, Montgomery, Jacobs, and Spaulding, JJ. (Hoffman, J., absent). Opinion by Wright, J.
[ 208 Pa. Super. Page 503]
This is a workmen's compensation case. Mervin J. Nevison filed a claim petition alleging that he had sustained a heart attack on October 2, 1961, as the result of an accidental injury while in the course of his employment at one of the markets operated by Food Fair Stores in the City of Philadelphia. The employer denied that an accident had occurred, and also denied causal relationship between the alleged accident and the heart attack. The Referee dismissed the claim petition. The Board affirmed the decision of the Referee. The court of common pleas entered an order sustaining an appeal by the claimant, and directed the Board to make an award.*fn1 This appeal followed.
Claimant was manager of the produce department of the market at 1906 East Washington Lane. Produce was delivered by motor truck to the second floor of this store. As and when needed each day, produce was loaded upon a two-level metal cart and transported down a ramp to the first floor. Claimant testified on direct examination that, as he was descending the ramp with a loaded cart, "I started getting dizzy and I sort of slipped to my knee, but the cart was heavy in coming down and I put my arms out, at arm's length, to prevent the cart from pinning me against the wall". On cross-examination claimant testified as follows: "I
[ 208 Pa. Super. Page 504]
just started down the ramp and I was about three-quarters of a way, about one-third way from the top of the ramp when I had this dizziness come on and I fell to my knee, whether I slipped or it was from the dizziness". Claimant then left the store, was hospitalized for seven weeks, and has not returned to work. Dr. Lawrence T. Browne testified that claimant had sustained a "coronary thrombosis with acute coronary occlusion and myocardial infarction" which was causally related to his work activity.
The record discloses that claimant had suffered two prior heart attacks. In July 1957 claimant had a coronary thrombosis, with acute myocardial infarction, as the result of which he was hospitalized for six weeks and did not return to work until January 1958. In January 1960 claimant had a second attack as the result of which he was again hospitalized for six weeks and did not return to work until December 1960. Dr. Browne testified that claimant had severe coronary artery disease "which made him prone to another heart attack, coronary thrombosis". It is not disputed that claimant is now permanently and totally disabled. Dr. Albert Bockman testified for the employer that claimant's work activity "had no relationship to the disability . . . In my opinion we are dealing with spontaneous disease . . . progressive disease of the heart".
It was the conclusion of the Referee, sustained by the Board, that claimant's disability "was not the result of an injury by accident". The court below reasoned that this conclusion was erroneous because "a fall alone has been held to be an accident", citing Allen v. Patterson-Emerson-Comstock, Inc., 180 Pa. Superior Ct. 286, 119 A.2d 832. This reasoning overlooks the principle that compensation may not be awarded without a finding of causation, and the power to make such a finding is exclusively vested in the compensation authorities: Gavandula v. Ryan Brothers, 205 Pa. Superior Ct. 325,
[ 208 Pa. Super. Page 505209]
A.2d 13. In the Allen case, upon which reliance was placed by the court below, we did not direct that an award be made. The record was simply remanded to the Board for further consideration due to the ...