Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of Marie Phillips, w/o William Phillips, v. Continental Meat Company, No. A-69211.
Edward Paul, with him Walter J. Timby, Jr., James M. Marsh, and, of counsel, LaBrum and Doak, for appellant.
George M. Bobrin, with him Bobrin and Land, and James N. Diefenderfer, for appellees.
Judges Mencer, Rogers and Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Rogers.
This is the appeal of an employer from a decision of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board affirming a referee's award of compensation on a fatal claim petition filed by the widow of William Phillips. Mr. Phillips died almost immediately after carrying a side of beef weighing
in excess of 150 pounds across a Philadelphia street to a customer of his employer on January 19, 1972. There is ample evidence that this delivery was an unusual requirement of Mr. Phillips' employment and the appellant makes no issue on this point.
Mr. Phillips' body was examined on the day following his death by the Medical Examiner of Philadelphia who reported that the death was from natural causes. However, in February of 1973, Mr. Phillips' body was exhumed and an autopsy was performed by a Dr. Contostavlos who reported that the cause of death was occlusive coronary arteriosclerosis and that at the time of his death Mr. Phillips was suffering from a degenerative heart condition of several years duration.
At the referee's hearing the claimant adduced the testimony of Dr. Gambescia, a board certified internist who had treated about 50 heart patients during the year immediately preceding his testimony, that he had examined the report of a physical examination of the decedent made before his death, the records of previous hospitalizations, the autopsy report, and other records. In answer to a hypothetical question, Dr. Gambescia expressed the opinion that Mr. Phillips' death was brought on by the physical exertion employed in delivering the side of beef on the day of his death.
Dr. Contostavlos testified for the employer that his autopsy compelled him to conclude that Mr. Phillips' heart condition had existed for some time before his death, that Mr. Phillips could have died at any time and that the physical stress was not, in his opinion, the underlying cause of death. He admitted, however, on cross-examination, that the carrying of a 150 pound weight would be an "aggravating factor in anybody who had heart disease of any kind" and that "with his heart condition a severe physical exertion could bring on a heart attack."
The appellant argues that Dr. Gambescia, the claimant's physician, was not ...