Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board and Walter Haurin v. United Sheet Metal Company and Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, No. A-67992.
John G. Jenemann, with him Joseph R. Thompson, for appellants.
Thomas F. McDevitt, with him James N. Diefenderfer, for appellees.
Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer and Rogers, sitting a a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Crumlish, Jr.
[ 18 Pa. Commw. Page 537]
United Sheet Metal Company and its carrier, Liberty Mutual Insurance Company (Appellant), appeal a decision of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board) which affirmed the referee's award on a fatal claim petition filed by Mrs. Walter Haurin (Claimant) widow of Walter Haurin (Decedent).
Two questions are before us on appeal:
1) Are the referee's findings of fact that decedent experienced an unusual over-exertion which caused his death supported by competent evidence? and
2) Is there sufficient competent evidence to support a finding of a compensable accident?
Decedent was employed by Appellant as a sheet metal worker. On May 25, 1970, while working on the premises of Merck, Sharp & Dome installing an air conditioning system, decedent was found lying at the bottom of a stairway. After being taken to a nearby hospital, he was pronounced dead. That day, decedent had been carrying approximately thirty-five air conditioning baffles (blades) up two flights of steps (approximately twenty feet) to the roof. Once on the roof he carried the baffles another one hundred twenty feet to the place of installation. Each baffle weighed three to five pounds and measured four feet long. On these facts the referee and Board awarded compensation on the fatal claim petition on the basis of finding of an accident and unusual strain.
[ 18 Pa. Commw. Page 538]
We turn first to the question of usual strain. Most recently we enunciated the law applicable to unusual strain in Borough of Throop v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, 17 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 521, 333 A.2d 481 (1975), and Muser v. I.B.M. Corporation, 13 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 12, 317 A.2d 352 (1974). "Under this doctrine there can be no recovery unless the claimant proves that the death or injury resulted from an overexertion or unusual strain encountered in the course of his employment . . . [and] the unusual strain doctrine Page 538} is to be applied according to the work history of the individual involved and not according to the work pattern of his profession in general." Muser, supra, at 16, 317 A.2d at 354 (Emphasis added.)
The record states that decedent was a relatively new employee, being with Appellant for a little over one month, and that he had never performed this kind of work prior to the day of his death. The record further reveals that Claimant's doctor testified that in his opinion the decedent's ...