Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of Joseph Bartosevich v. Ira Berger & Sons, No. A-64969.
Anthony Ciotola, with him Louis G. Feldmann and Feldmann and Ciotola, for appellants.
Eugene E. Duffy, with him James N. Diefenderfer, for appellees.
Judges Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr. and Mencer, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Wilkinson.
[ 17 Pa. Commw. Page 371]
On August 21, 1967, claimant-appellee, a carpenter employed by appellant, suffered a compensable injury to his back and thereafter entered into a compensation agreement with appellant for total disability payments of $52.50 per week. On February 19, 1969, appellant filed a termination petition alleging that claimant was able to return to work on December 1, 1968. Claimant's answer alleged that he was still disabled.
In the course of three hearings, exhibits were submitted and testimony was taken from claimant, from claimant's medical witness, Dr. Feddish, a chiropractor, from appellant's medical witness, Dr. Gunderson, an orthopedic surgeon, and from an impartial medical expert appointed by the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, Dr. Umlauf, a psychiatrist and neurologist. On October 8, 1971, the referee granted the petition to terminate benefits. He found that although claimant was
[ 17 Pa. Commw. Page 372]
then disabled, the disability was not causally related to the accident of August 21, 1967, and that claimant was able to return to work on December 1, 1968. In order to keep this case in its proper chronological perspective, we will summarize the testimony which led to this first referee's decision.
Dr. Gunderson testified that he last examined claimant on November 8, 1968, and found that he was "largely recovered from any effects of his injury and was able to return to work as of December 1, 1968." Claimant testified that he was gradually improving until November 8, 1968, but that during a leg raising test by Dr. Gunderson, his pain reappeared. He then went directly to Dr. Feddish, his chiropractor.
Dr. Feddish testified that claimant first came to him for treatment for the August 21, 1967 injury on September 14, 1967, and that he treated him until October 21, 1968, and that during this period, he had administered approximately 200 adjustments and taken 32 x-rays. He testified that he discharged claimant on October 21, 1968, as 90% recovered. Dr. Feddish then testified that he next saw claimant on November 8, 1968, following claimant's examination by Dr. Gunderson. He stated that claimant was then totally disabled and attributed the disability to a reinjuring of the back caused by the leg raising test.
The referee then continued the proceedings in order to take the testimony of an impartial medical expert to be appointed by the Board. Dr. Umlauf examined claimant on November 11, 1970, and found claimant to be totally disabled. He rejected the possibility that claimant was reinjured by Dr. Gunderson, or that the current disability was related to the August 21, 1967 accident. Rather, Dr. Umlauf attributed claimant's disability to an iatrogenic conversion reaction (variously referred to throughout the record as a ...