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WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD AND BENEDICT J. NISSEL v. HAROLD HARTLIEB (10/03/75)

decided: October 3, 1975.

WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD AND BENEDICT J. NISSEL, APPELLANTS,
v.
HAROLD HARTLIEB, T/D/B/A HARRISBURG MACHINE AND WELDING COMPANY, APPELLEE



COUNSEL

Willaim J. Madden, Jr., Harrisburg, for appellant.

Lloyd R. Persun, Shearer, Mette, Hoernor & Woodside, Harrisburg, for appellee.

Jones, C. J., and Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy and Nix, JJ. Manderino, J., took no part in the consideration or decision of this case. Pomeroy, J., dissents.

Author: Eagen

[ 465 Pa. Page 251]

OPINION OF THE COURT

On April 14, 1970, Benedict J. Nissel was performing his regular duties for the Harrisburg Machine and Welding Company when a fellow employee set off an explosive

[ 465 Pa. Page 252]

    device nearby. Nissel felt sharp pain in both ears for several minutes and pressure in both ears for some time. Thereafter, on October 8, 1970, Nissel filed a petition with the Workmen's Compensation Board alleging that, although he had lost no time from work because of his injury, he had suffered a complete loss of hearing in both ears so as to be entitled to compensation under Section 306(c) of The Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act.*fn1

[ 465 Pa. Page 253]

Section 306(c) of the Act, unlike Sections 306(a)*fn2 and 306(b),*fn3 provides compensation to an injured claimant without regard to the degree of economic disability which may result therefrom. Lente v. Luci, 275 Pa. 217, 220, 119 A. 132 (1922); Shoop v. Chambersburg Baking Company, 189 Pa. Super. 20, 23-24, 149 A.2d 179 (1959). In twenty-one numbered subsections of Section 306(c), the legislature has provided that permanent specific losses of certain enumerated parts of the body are to be compensated in accordance with a prescribed schedule. In twenty of these subsections the mere permanent "loss" of the injured member is compensable. Thus, for example, the permanent loss of a hand or the permanent loss of a foot is compensable.*fn4 In construing these twenty subsections our courts have determined it is not necessary that the injured part of the anatomy be of absolutely no use in order for the injured claimant to qualify for compensation. Rather, the proper test to be applied is whether the claimant has suffered the permanent loss of use of the injured member "for all practical intents and purposes". Curran v. Walter E. Page 253} Knipe and Sons, Inc., 185 Pa. Super. 450, 547, 138 A.2d 251, 255 (1958). See also Wall v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, 12 Pa. Commw. 12, 315 A.2d 656 (1974); Hershey Estates v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, 9 Pa. Commw. 470, 308 A.2d 637 (1973).

However, Nissel's claim for compensation is encompassed by the provisions of Section 306(c)(8). This subsection, at the time Nissel's petition was filed, provided compensation for the permanent " complete loss of hearing, in both ears"*fn5 [Emphasis added]. We are asked in this appeal to determine whether the inclusion of the adjective "complete" in subsection (8) of Section 306(c) precludes application of the "for all practical intents and purposes" test.

Both the Referee and the Board determined the inclusion of the adjective "complete" in subsection (8) of Section 306(c) was not an indication that the legislature intended to treat a workman sustaining a loss of hearing any differently from a workman sustaining any of the other twenty enumerated losses. They, therefore, applied the "for all practical intents and purposes" test to Nissel's loss of hearing and, after determining that Nissel's loss fit within that test,*fn6 awarded him the compensation provided for by the statute. On appeal, the Commonwealth ...


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