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COLLINS v. UNITED STATES STEEL CORPORATION (12/29/72)

decided: December 29, 1972.

COLLINS
v.
UNITED STATES STEEL CORPORATION



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Fayette County, in case of Walter D. Collins v. United States Steel Corporation, No. 446 September Term, 1970.

COUNSEL

A. J. Kuzdenyi, for appellant.

James D. Strader, for appellee.

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

Author: Blatt

[ 7 Pa. Commw. Page 334]

Walter Collins (claimant) was employed by United States Steel (employer) as a mechanic, also performing plumbing and electrical work, when on June 7,

[ 7 Pa. Commw. Page 3351968]

, he suffered an injury to his right ankle. His claim is that he was putting a pipe through a wall and had stepped on a shelf in order to see if the pipe was going through the wall properly. The shelf was approximately 18 inches off the floor, and when the claimant stepped backwards off the shelf, his ankle gave way. He reported to the first-aid office that he had sprained his ankle, and although he attempted to return to work after first-aid treatment, he found his ankle to be too painful for him to continue working. It was subsequently determined that the claimant had a deep thrombophlebitis of his right leg, which makes it extremely painful for him to walk or stand for more than an hour. As of the time of the hearing below, he had not yet been able to return to work.

The claimant filed his claim petition pursuant to the Workmen's Compensation Act, Act of June 2, 1915, P.L. 736, as amended, 77 P.S. ยง 1 et seq., had a hearing before a referee, and was granted compensation for total disability. The employer appealed this decision to the Workmen's Compensation Board (Board), which vacated the award, holding that the claimant's injury was not the result of an accident in the course of his employment. The Court of Common Pleas of Fayette County affirmed this decision.

"Our scope of review, since the decision of the Board was against the claimant, is whether the Board's findings of fact are consistent with each other and with its conclusions of law and order and can be sustained without a capricious disregard of the evidence. Frombach v. United States Steel Corp., 2 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 556, 279 A.2d 779 (1971); Bednar v. Westinghouse Electric Corp., 194 Pa. Superior Ct. 10, 166 A.2d 305 (1960)." Whitehead v. Casey Building Wreckers, Inc., 6 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 256, 259, 294 A.2d 215, 216 (1972).

[ 7 Pa. Commw. Page 336]

The essential issue in this case is whether or not an "accident" has occurred. "Disability overtaking an employe at work is not compensable unless it is the result of an accident. . . . While the Workmen's Compensation Act should be liberally construed, its purpose is to compensate for accidental injuries and not to insure the life and health of an employe. . . ." Rettew v. Graybill, 193 Pa. Superior Ct. 564, 567-568, 165 A.2d 424, 425-426 (1960). The burden of proving that an accident has occurred, moreover, is on the claimant. Hurlburt v. Fidelity Window Cleaning Company, 192 Pa. Superior Ct. 152, 160 A.2d 251 (1960). "That which distinguishes an accident from other events is the element of being unforeseen; an accident is an occurrence which proceeds from an unknown cause, or which is an unusual effect of a known cause, and hence unexpected and unforeseen." Lacey v. Washburn & Williams Co., 309 Pa. 574, 578, 164 A. 724, 725 (1933).

"The cases disclose four basic categories of accidents: (1) a sudden, unexpected traumatic event such as a fall or blow . . .; (2) unusual exertion in the course of work causing an unexpected and sudden injury . . .; (3) an unusual pathological result of an ordinary condition of work . . .; and (4) sudden and unexpected injury caused by the failure of an employer to furnish medical care to an employee. . . ." Hinkle v. H.J. Heinz Company, 7 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 216, 222, 298 A.2d 632 (1972). In this case, because it was acknowledged that the claimant, when injured, was performing his usual work in the usual manner, only the first and third classifications mentioned above could be applicable. It is ...


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