Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of Willie Luckey, Jr., v. A.P. Green Refractories Co. and Pennsylvania Manufacturers' Association Insurance Co., Insurance Carrier, No. A-64442.
John F. McElvenny, for appellants.
Seymour Kanter, with him Halbert, Kanter & Bernstein, for appellee.
Judges Crumlish, Jr., Wilkinson, Jr., and Mencer, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Mencer.
When Willie Luckey, Jr., (claimant) began working for A.P. Green Refractories Co., he first unloaded boxcars and then operated a brick crusher, both jobs being heavy, laborious, and unskilled work. Approximately three years after starting work for the company, on
January 12, 1967, claimant disassembled the crusher, cleaned it, and began to reassemble it -- an operation required of and done by him from one to three times a week. While lifting from the ground a metal steel cover, which weighed approximately 100 pounds, he felt an immediate pain in his back on the right side. He could not straighten up and called his foreman for assistance.
Claimant later consulted his physician, Dr. Melnicoff, a general practitioner, on approximately twelve occasions over a six-week period of time. He was referred to Dr. Henry Sigmond, an orthopedic surgeon, on February 24, 1967, who ordered x-rays of the dorsal spine, low back, and right femur (the pain had extended into claimant's right leg). On March 8, 1967, claimant was admitted to Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia where he was seen in consultation by Dr. Pedro P. Polakoff, II, a neurosurgeon. On March 14, 1967, Dr. Polakoff performed a hemilaminectomy at L-4, 5 and L-5 S-1 on the right.*fn1 He was discharged from the hospital on March 23, 1967. Dr. Polakoff later testified that claimant could return to light work
provided that he did not lift more than 25 pounds. He also testified that the incident at work on January 12, 1967, caused claimant's disc problem.*fn2
On cross-examination, Dr. Polakoff related that there was evidence of disc degeneration at L-4 and L-5 noted at the time of the operation. X-ray examinations showed narrowing of the disc space between L-4 and L-5.
Dr. Martin Blaker, an orthopedic surgeon, examined claimant on September 11, 1968, and found "acute lumbosacral strain, status-post lumbar laminectomy and disc excision, findings strongly suggestive of conditions present prior to January 10, 1967 with atrophy of right lower extremity, mild, and shortening." Dr. Blaker related that, "In my opinion the procedure which was done here, laminectomy with disc excision was directed to a condition based upon prior vulnerability or prior changes in the spine present before January 10, 1967. . . . In my opinion the lifting which he is doing since it was a normal activity for him in his work frequently repeated for a long period of time, ...