Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of Marvin Wall v. Ward Candy Company and Travelers Insurance Company, No. A-66571.
Harry L. Clark, for appellant.
Joseph J. Murphy, with him Ernest Ray White and Murphy, Murphy & Murphy, for appellees.
Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer and Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Kramer.
This is an appeal filed by Marvin Wall (Wall) from an adjudication of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board), dated April 12, 1973, in which three of the referee's findings of fact and one of the referee's conclusions of law were vacated and six new findings of fact and one new conclusion of law were added. The Board reversed the referee's conclusion that the injuries to Wall's right hand resulted in the functional loss of the entire right hand and substituted its own conclusion that Wall was entitled to compensation only for the loss of his third and fourth fingers. The Board therefore reduced the compensation due Wall and credited
certain compensation benefit payments to Wall against the award.
Wall was employed by the Ward Candy Company (Ward) from August 18, 1969 as a laborer, whose job entailed the shoveling of chocolate into a grinding machine which he operated. On November 10, 1970, the grinding machine became jammed, and Wall attempted to clear the clogged material. While his right hand was inside the machine, someone started the mechanism and Wall's right hand became caught in the machine, resulting in the mutilation and amputation of part of his hand. Wall became unconscious and was taken to a hospital where he stayed for the next 32 days.
The expert medical testimony indicates that as a result of the accident the third and fourth fingers of Wall's right hand were completely amputated. He sustained loss of bone structure of the distal margins of the hamate bone, as well as the entire loss of the pisiform bone, with portions of the hamate to which it is attached. In addition, there was anatomical disarrangement in the hand in that there was a separate digit comprising the distal two-thirds of the metacarpal and the attached phalanges lying loose and separate along the phalanges of the third digit. The photo exhibits entered into evidence clearly disclose a mutilation with permanent scarring of Wall's right hand. The record discloses that 13 days after the accident Wall signed a typed compensation agreement which described the injury as the amputation of two fingers. The agreement does not mention the other injuries disclosed at the hearing in this matter. Wall was paid benefits at the rate of $60 per week for 13 weeks. This compensation apparently was discontinued because on January 12, 1971, Wall filed a claim petition for workmen's compensation benefits for the loss of his entire right hand. This petition was dismissed October 12, 1972 by adjudication of a referee because it had been erroneously
filed while the prior agreement (dated November 23, 1970) was in effect. In June of 1971, Wall filed a petition to review the provisions of the existing compensation agreement for the reason that the agreement failed to disclose the extent of Wall's injuries. A hearing was held on this petition for review at which the only evidence presented was by Wall and his expert medical witness. After giving the history and diagnosis, the expert medical witness was asked for his professional opinion on the condition of Wall's hand insofar as his ability to use it was concerned. The doctor replied, "This man has suffered the total loss of the use of the hand for practical purposes for reasons contained on the present complaints." Wall testified that he could not do the same work that he had been performing at the time of the accident, and that Ward had given him, upon returning to work on March 18, 1971, a different job involving the stacking of candy boxes onto "skids" which were then lifted by a powered hilift machine. Wall stated that he could use a shovel, but not as effectively as before the accident because his impaired right hand lacks endurance and strength. Wall now has difficulty picking things up with his right hand. He cannot engage in sports, as he had prior to his accident; he cannot open cans or unscrew bottles; he can only use tools with his left hand. ...