Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of Samuel L. Reed v. Glidden Company, No. A- 66487. Transferred from the Court of Common Pleas of Cambria County to the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, August 2, 1973.
Robert S. Glass with him Glass, Glass and Moot, for appellant.
Robert G. Rose, with him Spence, Custer, Saylor, Wolfe & Rose, for appellee, Glidden Company.
Judges Crumlish, Jr., Mencer and Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Blatt.
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Samuel L. Reed (claimant) allegedly suffered an injury to his right hand during June of 1968, while in the employ of the Glidden Company (Glidden). He sought compensation pursuant to the Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act, Act of June 2, 1915, P.L. 736, as amended, 77 P.S. § 1 et seq., and, following hearings, a referee awarded him compensation for the period from August 8, 1968 to May 12, 1969. On appeal, the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board), without taking additional testimony, reversed the findings of the referee on the basis that the claimant had failed to prove the occurrence of an injury as
[ 13 Pa. Commw. Page 345]
a result of a compensable accident. The claimant appealed to the Court of Common Pleas of Cambria County, which properly transferred the case to this Court.
On appeals to this Court in workmen's compensation cases, where the referee has found in favor of the party carrying the burden of proof and the Board has taken no additional evidence, our scope of review is limited to a determination of whether or not constitutional rights were violated, an error of law was committed or any necessary findings of fact, as found by the referee, were unsupported by substantial evidence. Leipziger v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board and Guida, 12 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 417, 315 A.2d 883 (1974). It is here the province of the referee, not the Board, to consider the credibility of the witnesses before it. Malocheski v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board and Consolidated Cigar Corporation, 12 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 430, 316 A.2d 81 (1974).
The claimant presented evidence at the hearings to the effect that in June of 1968 (he was unsure of the exact date) he and some fellow employees were attempting to slide a steel roll by using a sledge hammer and steel wedges. He said that one of the wedges slipped, shot out of the roll and struck him on the right wrist. He presented two witnesses, who were present at the time the incident occurred, and who corroborated his story. Although he did not report the incident immediately, as company policy required, one of the witnesses testified that he (the witness) reported the incident to the foreman the following day, and the claimant said he (the claimant) informed the company doctor of the incident during a physical examination he received in late June or early July of 1968.
The claimant did not miss any work immediately after the incident, but he did experience pain in his wrist and he consulted various physicians, including Dr. John Silensky, by whom he was examined on August
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, 1968. Dr. Silensky was an orthopedic specialist, who testified that the claimant had a fracture of the scaphoid in his right wrist as well as aseptic necrosis; the fracture being apparently one which the claimant had suffered in 1966. Dr. Silensky testified, however, that the earlier injury had been aggravated when the wrist was struck by the wedge, thus necessitating an operation. Dr. Silensky testified as follows: "Q. So it would have been possible then for this man to have worked from January 13, 1966 until June or July of 1968 with that fragment in the wrist? A. That is correct. He could. Q. In the meantime, that fragment would have been dead, because necrodic and aseptic set in? A. Right. Q. Would it be possible for him to have worked doing such work as using a sledge hammer if he had had a fracture? A. Yes. Q. He could have done that? A. Yes, he could have been able to work. Q. Did you hear the description to the size and weight of the wedge that struck this wrist in June of 1968? A. Yes. Q. Based upon your observation and based upon the fact that you did a fusion, do you have an opinion as to whether or not the wedge striking this wrist would have caused and did cause an aggravation to the extent that a fusion was necessary? A. That is correct. It's my opinion that it was aggravating and it was necessary to fuse it. Q. The aggravation was caused by the wedge hitting the wrist? A. Yes. By Attorney Rose [attorney for Glidden]: Q. Are you saying, Doctor ...