Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of Carmella Di Paolo, Widow of Armando Di Paolo, Deceased, v. Allied Chemical Corporation, No. A-67538.
Joseph J. Murphy, with him Murphy, Murphy & Murphy, for appellants.
Robert F. Pappano, with him James N. Diefenderfer and Pappano and Pappano, for appellees.
Judges Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer and Rogers, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Wilkinson.
[ 15 Pa. Commw. Page 196]
Claimant-appellee's decedent died of a myocardial infarction (heart attack) on November 2, 1967. The referee made the following finding of fact: "2. The nature and cause of the injury and death were the aggravation of a pre-existing arteriosclerotic heart disease when, while on a ladder, attempting to make repairs to an overhead door in defendant's plant, a heavy wire cable broke loose as he touched the shiv, whipped around with great force and a loud startling noise, lacerating decedent's right hand, precipitating great emotional tension, followed by emotional shock, and ultimately arteriosclerotic occlusion of the coronary artery, resulting in the death of claimant's said decedent approximately two hours thereafter." The sole question on this appeal is whether the claimant-appellee carried her burden of establishing by competent evidence in this record that there was a causal connection between the accident and the death. Appellant agrees that if there was such competent evidence of sufficient probative
[ 15 Pa. Commw. Page 197]
value to form an "evidentiary platform" on which to rest the finding, the appeal must fail. We find that there was and, therefore, must affirm.
The significant testimony on the point in question was offered by a fellow worker who was present at the time of the accident, a Board Certified Analytical and Clinical Pathologist, and a Board Certified Anatomic and Forensic Pathologist who had performed the autopsy.
The record shows that at the time of the accident decedent was subjected to a sudden loud noise and received a cutting blow to the fingers of both hands. The physician performing the autopsy testified the finger injuries were "superficial and not involving any vital area of the body or vital vessels." As a witness for appellant he concluded "The minor injuries of the hands did not contribute to the cause of death." On cross-examination he made it quite clear that he was referring only to the injuries to the fingers. When he took into consideration the closeness of time between the accident and the death, the decedent's prior condition, and the emotional distress, he testified specifically that he could not "rule out the possibility of this particular incident producing some emotional effect and sort of indirectly to some degree, expediting this process in his body."
On the other hand, claimant-appellee's pathologist testified positively that "the injury is causally related to the death of the deceased." This opinion was not shaken on cross-examination.
In addition to the above, a careful review of the entire record makes it clear to us that there is competent evidence from which the referee could build a platform on ...