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STUMP v. FOLLMER TRUCKING COMPANY (06/28/72)

decided: June 28, 1972.

STUMP, APPELLANT,
v.
FOLLMER TRUCKING COMPANY



Appeal from order of Commonwealth Court, No. 788 C.D. 1971, reversing the judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Montour County, Feb. T., 1968, No. 22, in re Miriam G. Stump, claimant, widow of David A. Stump, deceased v. Follmer Trucking Company.

COUNSEL

Elizabeth H. Kury, with her Kury and Kury, for appellant.

E. C. Marianelli, for appellee.

Jones, C. J., Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Eagen. Mr. Justice Pomeroy concurs in the result.

Author: Eagen

[ 448 Pa. Page 314]

For two years prior to his death on September 5, 1962, David A. Stump was employed by Follmer Trucking Company. His widow, Miriam G. Stump, alleging her husband's death was caused by an accident in the course of his employment instituted a claim on behalf of herself and her daughter for workmen's compensation benefits under the Act of June 2, 1915, P. L. 736, as amended, 77 P.S. §§ 1 et seq. A hearing was held before a compensation referee and an adjudication including findings of fact and conclusions of law was entered, and the claimant was granted an award of compensation. An appeal was taken to the Workmen's Compensation Board, which reversed the adjudication of the referee, denied compensation and dismissed the claimant's petition. Subsequently, an appeal was filed in the Court of Common Pleas of Montour County which reversed the Board and reinstated the award by the referee. Thereafter, the case was appealed to the Commonwealth Court which reversed the judgment of the Court of Common Pleas and reinstated the order of the Board dismissing the claimant's petition. We granted allocatur limited to "consideration of whether emotional excitement experienced by petitioner's decedent as a result of the collision can constitute a causal link between the accident and decedent's death which

[ 448 Pa. Page 315]

    is sufficient for purposes of the Workmen's Compensation Act." We now reverse and remand the case to the Board for consideration consonant with this opinion.

The testimony given before the referee indicates the following:

In the early morning hours of September 5, 1962, David A. Stump was operating a tractor-trailer truck owned by Follmer Trucking Company, in an easterly direction on Route 61 in the Borough of Frackville. The vehicle struck a large tree limb overhanging the roadway and the tree was uprooted. The impact caused extensive damage to the upper right-hand corner of the trailer and ripped out the electrical coupling plug between the trailer cab and the trailer. Stump stopped the truck approximately 120 feet from the point of impact, and took the necessary safety measures to immobilize the vehicle. He then proceeded to the rear of the truck holding a flashlight in his hand. Shortly thereafter, he was observed by another truck driver lying on the sidewalk near the tree. Although conscious, he was unable to speak, and was clutching his stomach with his hands in apparent pain. He was removed to a nearby doctor's office and died within the hour. An autopsy was performed and the cause of death was found to be acute coronary artery thrombosis.

At the hearing, Follmer admitted decedent had been involved in an accident in the course of his employment and that he died from a coronary thrombosis, but disputed the claim for compensation on the grounds that death was due to natural causes, and there was no causal connection between the accident and the death. The claimant, on the other hand, contended the death was causally related to the accident in one of two ways: (1) the collision caused a trauma to decedent's body which precipitated the death; (2) the emotional or psychological excitement which followed the collision was sufficient

[ 448 Pa. Page 316]

    to precipitate the thrombosis or accelerate and/or aggravate the thrombosis to the ...


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