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BOROUGH ALIQUIPPA AND WESTMORELAND CASUALTY COMPANY v. WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD AND ANGELO MANSUETTI (04/15/75)

decided: April 15, 1975.

BOROUGH OF ALIQUIPPA AND WESTMORELAND CASUALTY COMPANY, INSURANCE CARRIER, APPELLANTS,
v.
WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD AND ANGELO MANSUETTI, APPELLEES



Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of Angelo Mansuetti v. Borough of Aliquippa, No. A-67699.

COUNSEL

H. Reginald Belden, with him Marcia Belden Lappas, and Stewart, Belden, Sensenich and Herrington, for appellants.

Alexander J. Pentecost, with him James N. Diefenderfer, for appellees.

Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer and Rogers, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Kramer.

Author: Kramer

[ 18 Pa. Commw. Page 341]

This is an appeal by the Borough of Aliquippa and Westmoreland Casualty Company (hereinafter collectively referred to as the Borough) from an order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board), dated January 31, 1974, which affirmed the referee's award of compensation to Angelo Mansuetti (Mansuetti).

Mansuetti was employed by the Borough as a policeman for over 20 years, until April 8, 1971, when he suffered a heart attack while attempting to break up a gang fight involving 40 to 60 teenagers. The record indicates that during the gang fight Mansuetti was struck from behind, that he then wrestled with one individual for approximately 10 minutes, and that after that individual broke loose, Mansuetti pursued him on foot. During the pursuit Mansuetti suffered his heart attack.*fn1

Mansuetti filed a claim for workmen's compensation on December 9, 1971, and three hearings were eventually held before a referee. The only testimony presented at these hearings was by Mansuetti, a medical witness on behalf of Mansuetti and a medical witness on behalf of the Borough. On September 19, 1973, the referee filed his decision in which he found that Mansuetti's heart attack was caused by "extreme emotional and physical stress," and in which he awarded compensation after concluding that Mansuetti had met his burden of proving a compensable accident.*fn2 The Borough appealed to the

[ 18 Pa. Commw. Page 342]

Board which affirmed the referee's decision on January 31, 1974.

In its appeal to this Court the Borough contends (1) that the referee's finding that an accident had occurred in the course of Mansuetti's employment is not supported by substantial evidence; (2) that Mansuetti's present disability is not causally related to his heart attack; and (3) that Mansuetti is not entitled to compensation for total disability because the record only supports a finding of partial disability.

In a case such as this where the party with the burden of proof has prevailed before the referee 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. Judgments concerning the credibility of witnesses are for the referee rather than the Board or this Court. See Reed v. Glidden, 13 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 343, 318 A.2d 376 (1974).

The Borough's first argument in its appeal is that Mansuetti suffered his heart attack while doing his usual work in the usual manner and that, therefore, the referee's finding of a compensable accident is not supported by substantial evidence. This argument has no merit because there is testimony in the record which is more than adequate to support the referee's findings that the heart attack was caused by "extreme emotional and physical stress." The unusual strain doctrine is applicable to a case such as this, and the doctrine must be applied according to the work ...


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