Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of Elvira M. Butler v. Commercial Laundry, Inc. and The Home Insurance Company, No. A-67475.
Eugene F. Scanlon, Jr., with him Dickie, McCamey & Chilcote, for appellant.
Irving M. Portnoy, with him Jerome A. Patterson, Litman, Litman, Harris and Specter, P.A., and James N. Diefenderfer, for appellees.
Judges Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr. and Rogers, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Kramer.
[ 17 Pa. Commw. Page 298]
This is an appeal filed by Commercial Laundry, Inc. (Commercial) from an order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board), dated April 11, 1974, which reversed the referee and awarded workmen's compensation benefits to Elvira M. Butler (Butler). The
[ 17 Pa. Commw. Page 299]
Board substituted three of its own findings of fact for three of the six findings of fact made by the referee and substituted three conclusions of law for the single conclusion made by the referee.
On February 25, 1971, Butler was employed by Commercial as a laundry sorter. The record establishes that ordinarily Commercial's laundry sorters would spread two sheets on the floor, place about 25 soiled sheets on top, and then tie up the bottom sheets into a bundle. The workers singly, or together, would then lift the bundle of sheets onto a rack approximately six feet high. On the day in question, February 25, 1971, the record indicates that because of a lack of available racks Commercial's laundry sorters were making heavier bundles containing more sheets and then lifting them between four inches and one foot higher than normal. Near the end of the shift, i.e., 5:00 A.M., while Butler was helping a co-worker lift a bundle weighing approximately 75 pounds, the incident occurred which brought about her claim. Butler testified that "Whenever I threw it up I reached up straining myself more and I felt something snap." The record indicates that she experienced pain and immediately sat down. Butler immediately notified her supervisor of her claimed injury, and on that same date she visited St. Francis Hospital for emergency treatment. Thereafter she was treated by a physician, who diagnosed her ailment as an "acute back sprain." The record also indicates that Butler had injured her back in non-work-related accidents prior to February 25, 1971 (apparently some time from 1964 to 1966), and that Butler had a degenerative type arthritis known as "hypertrophic degenerative arthritis." On April 26, 1972, Butler filed a claim for compensation. On June 12, 1972, Commercial and its insurance carrier filed an answer denying that Butler had suffered an accident within the meaning of the Workmen's Compensation Act (Act),
[ 17 Pa. Commw. Page 300]
Act of June 2, 1915, P.L. 736, as amended, 77 P.S. §§ 1 et seq.
Three hearings were held before the same referee and testimony was received from Butler, her co-worker and her physician. On July 16, 1973, the referee issued his "decision" in which he made what are purported to be findings of fact and a conclusion of law. Because the inadequacy of the refree's findings has a direct bearing ...