Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Board in case of Stella Sabatini, widow of Stephen Sabatini, v. Affiliated Food Distributors, Inc. and Insurance Company of North America, No. 524,169.
Raymond F. Lowery, for appellant.
Ernest J. Gazda, Jr., for appellee.
Judges Kramer, Mencer and Rogers, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Kramer.
This is an appeal filed by Affiliated Food Distributors, Inc. (Affiliated), from an Order of the Workmen's Compensation Board (Board), dismissing Affiliated's appeal to it from an Award granted by an adjudication of a Referee of the Board to Stella Sabatini (Sabatini), widow of Stephen Sabatini (decedent). The Referee's Award granted to Sabatini benefits for both (1) that period prior to her husband's death on April 8, 1969, together with all hospital and medical expenses incurred prior to that date, and in addition (2) workmen's compensation death benefits after his death.
For approximately two years prior to February 19, 1968, the decedent was employed by Affiliated as a warehouseman. The decedent's work entailed the lifting and moving of boxes and crates and other materials in his employer's warehouse. On that date, February 19, 1968, while at work on a platform near an open door, the decedent who had "sweated up -- a little overheated due to the work," became exposed to a draft of very cold air (the outside temperature being near zero degrees Fahrenheit) from the opened door. Decedent stated that the cold air struck him in the face, and later, that same day, at about 9:00 P.M. as he was eating his supper, he noticed that he was developing a paralysis and numbness about his face, which became progressively worse. Decedent continued his work until February 27, 1968, at which time he consulted his family physician who informed him that he had contracted "Bell's palsy." The record indicates that the decedent had been in apparent good health prior to the above described incident.
As a result of this incident, a workmen's compensation agreement was executed between the decedent and Affiliated on March 28, 1968, under which Affiliated acknowledged that the decedent had experienced a compensable
accident, resulting in Bell's palsy to the left side of his face. Affiliated agreed to pay decedent compensation at the rate of $52.50 per week, beginning March 5, 1968, and in addition agreed to pay all medical and hospital expenses "subject to the limits of time and amounts provided by the Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act and subject to modification or termination by Supplemental Agreement, order of the Workmen's Compensation Board or Final Receipt." Decedent received payment under this agreement from March 5, 1968, to September 4, 1968, after which later date decedent returned to work. Because of his continuous deteriorating condition decedent again was forced to leave his employment; and on September 20, 1968, decedent and Affiliated entered into a supplemental agreement, under which it was further agreed "that on and after 9-12-68 compensation shall be payable to the said employee at the rate of $52.50 per week for indefinite weeks; or if the future period of disability is uncertain, then to continue at said rate until terminated by further supplemental agreement, order of the Workmen's Compensation Board or Referee, or by final receipt." Affiliated voluntarily stopped payment to decedent on December 23, 1968.
Decedent's physical condition continued to deteriorate and after examination by several doctors and two confinements in a hospital, decedent's disability was finally determined to be a cerebral vascular accident with hypertension. The record is quite clear that the decedent suffered two or more strokes between February 19, 1968, and his death on April 8, 1969.
Based on the record made before him, the Referee found that the decedent died as a result of the injuries he experienced on February 19, 1968. In affirming the Referee, the Board reached an additional conclusion ...