Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of Mary DiSimone v. Allied Chemical Corp., No. A-68326.
Joseph J. Murphy, with him Murphy, Murphy & Murphy, for appellants.
Stephen A. McBride, with him Kassab, Cherry and Archbold, and James N. Diefenderfer, for appellees.
Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer and Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Crumlish, Jr.
[ 20 Pa. Commw. Page 563]
This is an employer's appeal from an order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board which sustained a referee's award of death benefits to the widow of Vito
[ 20 Pa. Commw. Page 564]
DiSimone under the Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act, Act of June 2, 1915, P.L. 736, 77 P.S. § 1 et seq. It is not disputed that the decedent died on August 3, 1973 of an acute myocardial infarction. Nor can appellants now dispute that the decedent was totally disabled at the time of his death, as the result of two accidents sustained in the course of his employment in 1966 and 1970 as appellants withdrew their appeal before the Board from the referee's award of total disability on a claim filed by decedent before his death. The narrow issue for us to determine, therefore, is whether there is substantial evidence to sustain the finding of the referee that there was a causal connection between these accidents and the decedent's subsequent death.
"Where, as here, the referee has found in favor of the party carrying the burden of proof (in this case, the claimant) and the Board has heard 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." Czankner v. Sky Top Lodge, Inc., 13 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 220, 228, 318 A.2d 379, 381 (1974).*fn1 Substantial evidence is generally defined as such evidence as a reasonable person acting reasonably might accept as supportive of a factual conclusion reached. Flexer v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, 12 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 405, 317 A.2d 53 (1974). As we find such evidence here, we are bound to affirm.
[ 20 Pa. Commw. Page 565]
The record discloses that in February of 1966 decedent suffered severe third degree burns of the upper torso and limbs when a chemical wash tank he was painting for his employer exploded. As a result of these burns, extensive split skin grafts were required and thereafter surgical procedures were performed to relieve the limitation of motions brought about by the burns and grafts. Decedent suffered a second chemical burn to his hand in October of 1970 which aggravated a pre-existing rheumatoid arthritic condition and further limited the range of motion of the hand. The testimony of claimant as well as that of decedent, on the disability claim prior to his death which was incorporated by reference into the hearings on the fatality claim, establish that prior to the accidents decedent was in good health. Due to the general discomfort and loss of mobility and perspiration surface from the burns and grafts, decedent became increasingly nervous and depressed. Based upon this history, as contained in a hypothetical question, claimant's medical witness, a cardiologist, testified as follows:
"Q. Can you state with reasonable medical certainty whether the injuries, operations and facts I have described are the competent cause of ...