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decided: April 21, 1971.


Appeal from the order of the Court of Common Pleas of Carbon County, No. 22 September Term, 1962, in case of Ellen Young, Widow of Russell A. Young, deceased v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, State Police.


Roy N. LaRocca, Special Assistant Attorney General, with him Thomas E. Roberts, Assistant Attorney General, Raymond Kleiman, Deputy Attorney General, and J. Shane Creamer, Attorney General, for appellant.

Louis G. Feldmann, with him Thomas L. Kennedy, and Feldmann & Ciotola, for appellee.

Judges Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., and Rogers, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Kramer.

Author: Kramer

[ 2 Pa. Commw. Page 424]

This is an appeal from an Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Carbon County dated October 9, 1970, sustaining the appeal of Ellen Young (appellee) and vacating the order of the Workmen's Compensation Board (Board) dated June 6, 1962, which had dismissed the fatal injury claim of appellee arising from the death of her husband, Russell A. Young.

The facts giving rise to the claim were that appellee's husband, an officer in the Pennsylvania State Police with about 12 years of service, died on May 18, 1957, at about 7:30 p.m., of a coronary occlusion resulting from a coronary heart disease brought on by diabetes mellitus as aggravated by the activities which the decedent performed during the day of his death. Decedent had a history of diabetes over a 17-year period and received an injection of insulin daily.

For many years prior to his death the decedent's duties consisted primarily of inspecting garages with only incidental police work, in the usual sense, which the decedent might encounter driving to and from his primary duty. Also included in his regular duties was the performance of general fatigue duties which involved cleaning and maintenance at the State Police Barracks in Lehighton every Saturday. The record discloses a description of these general fatigue duties as cleaning floors, dusting and polishing furniture, and other general housecleaning which entailed the physical moving of desks and chairs and filing cabinets weighing between two and three hundred pounds each. On the day in question, May 18, 1957, the decedent was instructed by his superior officer to include in his general housecleaning duties the job of cleaning the inside and outside windows of the barracks. The record discloses that the cleaning of windows on this date in question was the first time that the windows had been cleaned by decedent that spring. The record discloses

[ 2 Pa. Commw. Page 425]

    that in cleaning the windows the decedent would have had to move, ascend and descend from a ladder because the windows in size and position ranged from about four feet from the ground to a height of about 11 feet from the ground. The decedent on the day in question worked from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., with a break for lunch. The record discloses that during the day witnesses observed the decedent to be of a pale complexion and complaining of not feeling "so hot".

Following his tour of duty that day, the decedent met with two other men, and the three of them proceeded to drive two trucks filled with shale to a summer cottage of the decedent. At the cottage the decedent raked and pushed shale from one truck and raked shale which had been dumped from the other truck onto the road leading to the cottage. During the course of this road shale project, in which appellee also assisted in raking, decedent, in looking for a large rock to fill a hole in the road, bent over to pick up a large rock. Before he could lift the rock, he straightened up, then collapsed and fell to the ground. One of the men attempted to obtain the services of a doctor, who could not come to the scene, and the men placed the decedent in a station wagon and took him to a physician, where he was pronounced dead, at 7:30 p.m., May 18, 1957.

Appellee filed her fatal injury claim petition on July 12, 1957. Hearings were held in 1961. On October 5, 1961, the Referee made an award to the appellee on the basis that death of decedent was caused by an accident within the meaning of the Workmen's Compensation Act. On appeal, the Board vacated two of the Referee's findings of fact and one conclusion of law. The import of the Board's adjudication was a determination that decedent died as a result of a coronary occlusion from activities engaged ...

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