Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in case of Nunzio Guzzo v. Westinghouse Electric Corporation and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, No. 426 of 1974.
Samuel P. Gerace, with him Jones, Gregg, Creehan and Gerace, for appellant.
Alexander J. Pentecost, with him Samuel C. Vary, Assistant Attorney General, and James N. Diefenderfer, for appellees.
Judges Wilkinson, Jr., Rogers and Blatt, sitting as panel of three. Opinion by Judge Rogers.
[ 22 Pa. Commw. Page 527]
Westinghouse Electric Corporation, formerly the employer of Nunzio Guzzo, has appealed from an order (without opinion) of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County affirming an order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board remanding the matter of Guzzo's claim petition to a referee for the appointment
[ 22 Pa. Commw. Page 528]
of an impartial physician specializing in psychiatry to examine Guzzo and to report on whether he suffers from a neurosis induced by an occupational disease.
Guzzo's claim petition alleging total disability caused by "Epoxy Poisoning -- Acute Neurosis" was filed pursuant to The Pennsylvania Occupational Disease Act, Act of June 21, 1939, P.L. 566, as amended, 77 P.S. § 1201 et seq. At the referee's hearing, the claimant adduced evidence tending to show that he suffers from dermatitis induced by the poisoning effect of epoxy resin, a material handled by him in his employment by Westinghouse; that epoxy poisoning is not a disease common to the general population; and that the claimant is totally disabled as the result of neurosis induced by dermatitis. The condition of neurosis and its relationship to the claimant's dermatitis was testified to by a general practitioner. Westinghouse adduced the testimony of qualified physicians specializing in dermatology that the claimant's dermatitis was not caused by epoxy poisoning. The referee found that the claimant had failed to establish by sufficient competent evidence that he suffers from or is disabled as the result of an occupational disease. The Board, although doubtful whether neurosis caused by an occupational disease is compensable, remanded for expert psychiatric evidence because the claimant's only proof of neurosis was the opinion of a general practitioner.
The claimant contends that the appeal from the Board's order of remand was interlocutory and should be quashed.
Westinghouse contends first that the Board was without power to remand, citing Gibson-Boulevard, Inc. v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, 19 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 147, 338 A.2d 697 (1975), and Forbes Pavilion Nursing Home, Inc. v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, 18 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 352, 336 A.2d 440 (1975). In the cases just cited we held that amendments made to The Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation
[ 22 Pa. Commw. Page 529]
Act*fn1 by the Act of February 8, 1972, P.L. 25, and the Act of March 29, 1972, P.L. 159, constituted the referee the final arbiter of the facts; that the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board may no longer make independent determinations of the facts unless the referee's findings are not supported by competent evidence; and that in cases where the Board may not make such independent determinations it may not remand the case for the appointment of an impartial medical expert. However, The Pennsylvania Occupational Disease Act*fn2 was not amended as was The Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act, and Section 423 of the former, 77 P.S. § 1523, still provides that the Board shall be the ultimate fact finder. Dunn v. Merck & Co., Inc., 12 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 572, 317 A.2d 657 (1974). It follows that the ...