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NASH v. SANDNES' SONS (10/17/72)

decided: October 17, 1972.


Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Board in case of Peggy Nash v. Sandnes' Sons, Inc., No. A-62952.


Lloyd R. Persun, with him Robert J. Woodside and Shearer, Mette, Hoerner & Woodside, for appellant.

Ronald M. Katzman, with him Goldberg, Evans & Katzman, for appellee.

President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer and Rogers. Judge Blatt did not participate. Opinion by Judge Kramer.

Author: Kramer

[ 6 Pa. Commw. Page 404]

This is an appeal by Sandnes' Sons, Inc. (Sandnes), the employer, from an Order of the Workmen's Compensation Board (Board) dated April 13, 1972, affirming the award of the Referee to Peggy Nash (Nash), the claimant employee, for what was found by the Referee to be a compensable injury. This appeal was taken directly to this Court, under the provisions of the Act of February 8, 1972, P.L. (No. 12) whereby this Court became the first court of review in place of the courts of common pleas. Our review of these statutory changes leads us to conclude that our scope of review remains the same as it was prior to Act No. 12 of 1972, with the possible exception that Section 427 of Act No. 12 states: "In any appeal to the Commonwealth Court, the scope of review shall be as provided in section 44, act of June 4, 1945 (P.L. 1388), known as the Administrative Agency Law." (71 P.S. § 1710.44). Section 44 of the Administrative Agency Law states, in pertinent part: "The court to which the appeal is taken shall hear the appeal without a jury on the record certified by the agency. After hearing, the court shall affirm the adjudication unless it shall find the same is in violation of the constitutional rights of the appellant, or is not in accordance with law, . . . or that any finding of fact made by the agency and necessary to support its adjudication is not supported by substantial evidence."

The facts of this case taken from the findings of fact of the Referee, all of which we find to be supported by

[ 6 Pa. Commw. Page 405]

    substantial evidence, indicate that Nash had been in the employ of Sandnes for a period of about three years. Her regular duties required her to weave a four inch strip of material about the edges of nets (used by the military) which were spread out on a table, after which she would fold the nets and pass them along to the next employee in the line of production. Early in March of 1968, due to changes in Sandnes' production, Nash was assigned to a new duty in which she was required to carry and manipulate a much heavier canvas tarpaulin. She was required to attach a pulley rope to the center of the tarpaulin, and hoist the tarpaulin a distance of about fifteen feet to a position where anther employee performed some sewing work to the edges of the tarpaulin. On March 19, 1968, while carrying out these new duties, and while pulling the rope hoisting the tarpaulin, "she felt something snap or break in her right wrist, forcing her to let go of the rope and causing the canvas tarpaulin to fall to the floor." She reported the incident to her employer's representatives. She immediately experienced great pain and swelling in her right hand and wrist.

Sandnes, in its appeal to this Court, contends that the Board was in error when it concluded that Nash suffered an accident within the meaning of the Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act, Act of June 2, 1915, P.L. 736, as amended, 77 P.S. § 1 et seq. Sandnes also alleges that Nash failed to prove a causal connection between the accident and the injury sustained.

[ 6 Pa. Commw. Page 406]

As this Court has said in several recent cases, our scope of review, where the Board has made an award in favor of the employee claimant, is to determine whether or not there is substantial evidence to support the findings of the Board, giving to the employee claimant the benefit of the most favorable inferences deducted from the testimony. See Bambrick v. Asten Hill Manufacturing Page 406} Co., 5 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 664, 291 A.2d 354 (1972); Stump v. Follmer Trucking Co., 4 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 110, 286 A.2d 1 (1972). We have also recently reviewed the "Substantial Evidence Rule" in the case of A. P. Weaver and Sons v. Sanitary Water Board, 3 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 499, 284 A.2d 515 (1971) where we held that substantial evidence should be construed to confer finality upon an administrative decision on the facts when upon an examination of the entire record the evidence, including the inferences therefrom, is to be found to be such that a reasonable man acting reasonably might have reached the same decision. Our position is aptly summarized in Stump v. Follmer Trucking Co., supra, wherein Judge Mencer said: "We must recognize that the Board is the fact finding body and it is not the prerogative of the lower court or of this Court to assume this privilege. Puskarich v. Puskarich, 174 Pa. Superior Ct. 581, 102 A.2d 191 (1954). The findings of the Board prevail on appeal if there is competent and substantial evidence in the record to sustain them. Gaughan v. Commonwealth, 208 Pa. Superior Ct. 406, 222 A.2d 446 (1966). As we said in State Workmen's Insurance Fund v. Young, 2 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 423, 427, 276 A.2d 552, 555 (1971), quoting with approval from Dindino v. Weekly Review Publishing Company, Inc., 188 Pa. Superior Ct. 606, 610, 149 A.2d 475, 477 (1959): 'Questions of fact are for the compensation authorities and the appellate court may not make an independent appraisement of the evidence: Berman v. George J. Blair Company, 137 Pa. Superior Ct. 193, 8 A.2d 731.'" 4 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. at 113, 286 A.2d at 2.

A careful review of the medical testimony presented by Nash (Sandnes presented no testimony or evidence) supports the Board's and Referee's conclusion that Nash's ...

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