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SKF INDUSTRIES v. CARL CODY (04/14/71)

decided: April 14, 1971.

SKF INDUSTRIES, INC. AND LIBERTY MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY
v.
CARL CODY, JR., DECEASED -- CLARA CODY, CLAIMANT



Direct appeal from the order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, No. 3774 May Term, 1970, in case of Carl Cody, Jr., deceased, Clara Cody, claimant v. SKF Industries, Inc., and Liberty Mutual Insurance Co.

COUNSEL

Roger B. Wood, with him Joseph R. Thompson, for appellant.

Stanley P. Stern, with him Stern & Tractman, for appellee.

President Judge Bowman and Judges Kramer and Mencer, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Kramer.

Author: Kramer

[ 2 Pa. Commw. Page 20]

This is an appeal from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County denying the appeal of SKF Industries, Inc. (employer-appellant) and

[ 2 Pa. Commw. Page 21]

Liberty Mutual Insurance Company (insurance carrier-appellant). The court below affirmed the decision of the Workmen's Compensation Board (Board) which had affirmed the adjudication of the referee granting an award to the claimant, Clara Cody (appellee) and her children.

This matter was instituted by the filing of a fatal claim petition with the Board by the widow of Carl Cody, Jr., deceased, who for ten years had been an employee of the appellant employer, and who, immediately prior to his death, had held the position of chauffeur.

The referee found that on March 10, 1966, the decedent was struck on the head by an overhead garage door at his place of employment. This resulted in severe headaches requiring medical treatment by his physician and hospitalization on two occasions, ultimately resulting in his death on April 10, 1966. The referee found that the cause of death was a sub-dural hematoma and infection resulting from the head trauma.

The appellants present two basic issues in advancing their argument that the Board abused its discretion and committed an error of law. First, appellants state that it was improper to permit the testimony of the widow and the family physician (over the objection of the appellants) concerning statements made by the decedent to them related to the circumstances of the trauma in question. Appellants state that this testimony did not fall within the res gestae exception to the hearsay rule. Secondly, the appellants argue that it was improper to admit those portions of the hospital records based upon statements made by the patient-decedent to doctors and various hospital personnel. These alleged objectionable statements concerned the circumstances leading up to and resulting in the trauma in question.

[ 2 Pa. Commw. Page 22]

The scope of appellate review in workmen's compensation cases was stated by the Superior Court in Heinzl v. Jones and Laughlin Steel Corporation, 157 Pa. Super. 454, 456, 43 A.2d 635, 636 (1945): "It is the duty of this Court to examine the record to determine whether the findings of fact made by the referee and the board are supported by legally competent evidence, and whether on such findings the law has been properly applied. Smith v. Welsh Bros., 102 Pa. Superior Ct. 54, 156 A. 598 (1931); Watkins v. Pittsburgh Coal Company, 278 Pa. 463, 123 A. 461 (1924); Melini v. Saltsburg Coal Mining Company et al., 119 Pa. Superior Ct. 356, 181 A. 330 (1935) and not to weigh the evidence to determine its probative value. Bradley v. Pioneer Oil Company, 109 Pa. Superior Ct. 585, 167 A. 660 (1933). The findings of the referee and ...


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