Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of Steve Skwarko v. Crucible Steel Company of America, No. A-65874.
John T. Tierney, III, with him Jack Meyerson and Reed, Smith, Shaw & McClay, for appellant.
James C. Evans, for appellee.
Judges Kramer, Mencer and Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Kramer.
This is an appeal by Crucible Steel Company of America (Crucible) from an adjudication of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board) awarding to Steve Skwarko (Skwarko) workmen's compensation benefits from March 1, 1968 and for an indefinite period, until such time as Skwarko's total disability ceases to exist.
The pertinent facts are that on March 28, 1963, Skwarko sustained an injury to his back in the regular course of his employment with Crucible. As a result of this accident, Skwarko and Crucible entered into a compensation agreement dated September 6, 1963. This agreement was designated "Department Accident and Agreement No. 7,605,496." The agreement provides a description of the nature of the injury as: "Wrenched back while handling heavy steel." It also noted that Skwarko received his full wages during the period of disability and, therefore, the compensation rate of $47.50 per week was included in the $96.46, weekly wages, he was paid.
On March 31, 1964, the parties entered into a supplemental agreement, bearing the same departmental number noted above, whereby it was agreed that the disability of Skwarko changed on August 5, 1963, on which date he returned to work for Crucible. This first supplemental agreement provided that further compensation payment to Skwarko was "supended." There
was no mention in this first supplemental agreement of any termination of compensation rights. It was filed and approved by the "Bureau of Workmen's Compensation."
The Board found, and the record adequately supports, that Skwarko returned to his full-time physical, manual labor whereby Skwarko was called upon to move, shift, lift and manipulate very heavy pieces of equipment and material. The condition of Skwarko's back following the 1963 injury so improved that sometime during the year 1965 he even discarded a back brace, and thereafter continued in his regular course of employment until February 8, 1968, on which date he reinjured his back.*fn1 On that date, Skwarko was assigned (along with another employe) the duty of moving "titanium electrodes" weighing between 500 and 800 pounds each from a forklift onto a flat bed truck. Skwarko's description of what transpired is perhaps the best description. It reads on the record as follows: "From the forklift to the truck bed. I had gotten this end and moved it and walked over to the other end to lift it up and sort of give it a twist, and it just felt like somebody was ripping me apart inside. And I just collapsed." He immediately reported his injury to the general office secretary of Crucible, who together with other agents of Crucible directed him to a Mr. Foster, who in turn directed Skwarko to Dr. Temeles, a company physician. Dr. Temeles examined Skwarko on March 9, 1968.
As a result of these developments, a second supplemental agreement was entered ...