Appeal from order of Commonwealth Court, No. 1006 Tr. Dkt. 1970, affirming order of Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County, April T., 1970, No. 798, in case of Rose Kujawa, widow of William Kujawa v. Latrobe Brewing Company.
William C. Stillwagon, for appellant.
H. Reginald Belden, with him Stewart, Belden, Sensenich and Herrington, for appellee.
Jones, C. J., Eagen, O'Brien, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Chief Justice Jones. Mr. Justice Roberts took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.
Appellant's husband, William Kujawa, suffered an injury in the course of his employment with Latrobe Brewing Company on February 8, 1961, and was paid compensation for total disability from March 25, 1961 until his death on March 26, 1968. On May 7, 1968, Kujawa's widow, the appellant herein, filed a fatal claim petition for an award pursuant to the Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act. The referee granted appellee's motion to dismiss on the ground that there can be no recovery for death occurring more than 300 weeks after an accident. The Workmen's Compensation Board affirmed this decision. On appeal to the Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County, the court
en banc affirmed the decision of the Workmen's Compensation Board and dismissed the claimant's appeal. Appeal was then taken to the Commonwealth Court, which also dismissed the appeal and affirmed the disallowance of compensation.
This case involves the narrow issue of whether Mrs. Kujawa's claim is barred by Section 301(c) of the Workmen's Compensation Act, which provides in part: "wherever death is mentioned as a cause for compensation under this act, it shall mean only death resulting from such violence and its resultant effects, and occurring within three hundred weeks after the accident."*fn1 This issue has previously been before this Court in Meyers v. Moxham Coal Co., 293 Pa. 7, 141 A. 643 (1928). We allowed an appeal in this case, however, to re-evaluate our holding in Meyers in light of more recent decisions by the Superior Court interpreting the corresponding section of the Occupational Disease Act.*fn2
In Meyers, this Court held that the language of Section 301(c) was "plain and explicit, not in the least doubtful and excludes, as it was certainly intended to do, from the provisions of the act, any claims for death . . . occurring more than three hundred weeks after the accident." 293 Pa. at 8, 141 A. at 644.
Appellant contends that this Court's holding in Meyers has been modified by Toffalori v. Donatelli Granite Co., 157 Pa. Superior Ct. 311, 43 A.2d 584 (1945), and subsequent Superior Court cases.*fn3 See, e.g., Page 168} Kugris v. Hammond Coal Co., 174 Pa. Superior Ct. 376, 101 A.2d 155 (1953). In Toffalori, the Superior Court interpreted Section 301 of the Occupational Disease Act, note 2 supra, to permit recovery for a death which resulted from an occupational disease, but which occurred more than three years (now four) after the last date of employment, where compensation had been paid to the decedent during his lifetime. The theory was that the claim in that case was for a continuation of the compensation payments which had already been awarded for total disability,*fn4 and that death was not the basis of the award, but merely an event requiring payment of the balance of the compensation due the decedent.
Appellant urges that the rationale of Toffalori should apply to the instant case, since here as in Toffalori the decedent was receiving disability compensation payments prior to his death, whereas such was not the case in Meyers. This Court has never reviewed the situation raised by Toffalori, but without adjudging the merits of ...