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BROWN v. ATLANTIC AND GULF STEVEDORES (07/09/71)

decided: July 9, 1971.

BROWN
v.
ATLANTIC AND GULF STEVEDORES, INC.



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, June Term, 1970, No. 2427, in case of Elizabeth Brown v. Atlantic & Gulf Stevedores, Inc.

COUNSEL

Paul N. Minkoff, with him Klovsky, Kuby & Harris, for appellant.

John R. Warner, with him Marshall, Dennehey & Warner, P.A., for appellee.

Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer and Mencer, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Kramer.

Author: Kramer

[ 2 Pa. Commw. Page 481]

This is an appeal from an Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County affirming an adjudication

[ 2 Pa. Commw. Page 482]

    of the Workmen's Compensation Board (Board), which had denied compensation to Elizabeth Brown (appellant) as the widow of George Brown, deceased.

The appellant had filed a fatal claim petition with the Board against Atlantic & Gulf Stevedores (appellee) for compensation due as a result of the fatal injuries sustained by the decedent in the course of his employment on July 26, 1967. There is no need to go into the facts of the fatal accident for the reason that the parties to this case stipulated that the injuries suffered by the decedent were in the compensable category.

The only question which was presented to the Board and the court below is whether the appellant is the widow of George Brown. More specifically, the question is whether the record supports the conclusion of the Board and the court below that the appellant had not proven a common law marriage.

We have carefully reviewed the record in this case, including a very close scrutiny of the testimony of the appellant, and we conclude that neither the Board nor the court below has abused their discretion or committed an error of law. The record clearly shows that the relationship between the appellant and the decedent commenced meretriciously. There can be no doubt that this meretricious relationship continued for about twelve years. Whether or not that relationship came to an end and a common-law marriage validly entered into were matters for the determination of the finder of fact, viz., the Board.

[ 2 Pa. Commw. Page 483]

It is of no import that the Board vacated the referee's findings in favor of the appellant and substituted its own. It is the Board which is the final arbiter of the facts. Donaldson v. P. J. Oesterling and Sons, Inc., 199 Pa. Super. 637, 186 A.2d 653 (1962), Lorigan v. Page ...


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