Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of Helen Czankner, Widow of Andrew Czankner, deceased, v. Sky Top Lodge, Inc. and American Mutual Insurance Co., Insurance Carrier, No. A-66007.
Harry P. O'Neill, Jr., with him Epstein, O'Neill & Utan, for appellant.
George E. Clark, Jr., with him Cody H. Brooks, for appellees.
Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer and Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. President Judge Bowman and Judges Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers and Blatt. Judge Crumlish, Jr. did not participate. Opinion by Judge Blatt.
[ 13 Pa. Commw. Page 222]
This is a workmen's compensation case, in which the sole issue is whether or not there was sufficient medical testimony presented by the claimant to establish a causal connection between an alleged accident and the subsequent death of Andrew Czankner (decedent).
The decedent was employed by Sky Top Lodge, Inc. (employer), on November 1, 1967, when, as the workmen's compensation referee found, "the decedent was helping to unload bags of lime from a chute; he braced himself to catch a bag which weighed approximately 80 pounds, extended his arms to stop [the] bag from falling to the ground, and felt a pull in his right inguinal region." On February 27, 1968, the decedent was operated on for the repair of a right inguinal hernia, and on March 13, 1968, while still in the hospital, he died. The decedent's widow (claimant) thereafter filed a claim petition pursuant to the Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act, Act of June 2, 1915, P.L. 736, 77 P.S. § 1 et seq. Following a hearing, the referee found that the decedent had suffered a hernia
[ 13 Pa. Commw. Page 223]
due to an accident in the course of his employment*fn1 and that the operation for the hernia resulted in a pulmonary embolism which was the cause of death. Compensation was therefore granted.
On appeal, in a decision dated February 8, 1973, the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board), without taking any additional evidence, reversed the decision of the referee on the basis that the medical testimony relied on by the referee as to the cause of death was equivocal and therefore not competent.
Our scope of review in workmen's compensation cases is limited to a determination of whether or not constitutional rights were violated, an error of law was committed, or any necessary finding of fact was unsupported by substantial evidence. Arnold Coal & Supply Co., Inc. v. Markle, 8 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 107, 300 A.2d 916 (1973); Bayuk Cigar Company v. Hawn, 8 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 45, 300 A.2d 837 (1973). And where, as here, the Board has taken no additional evidence, we must rely on the facts as found by the referee if they are supported by sufficient competent evidence. Universal Cyclops Steel Corporation v. Krawczynski, 9 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 176, 305 A.2d 757 (1973).
It is undisputed that approximately two weeks after being operated on for a hernia, during which period he was ambulatory and apparently recovering, the decedent suddenly died. No autopsy was performed. The claimant introduced the testimony of Dr. C. J. Morosini, the decedent's personal ...