Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of Florian L. Woolensack v. Presbyterian-University Hospital, No. A-69595.
Fred C. Trenor, with him Meyer, Darragh, Buckler, Bebenek & Eck, for appellants.
Alexander J. Pentecost, with him James N. Diefenderfer, for appellees.
Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer and Rogers, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Rogers. Judge Kramer did not participate in the decision of this case.
[ 24 Pa. Commw. Page 133]
This is an appeal from a Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board's decision affirming a referee's grant of workmen's compensation benefits for total disability to the claimant, Florian L. Woolensack.
The appellee, Woolensack, sustained a lumbosacral sprain as the result of an accident in his employment as a plumber by a Pittsburgh hospital. He filed for benefits under The Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act.*fn1 After hearings, a referee awarded him compensation for total disability. The hospital and its insurer appealed to the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, which, without taking additional testimony, affirmed. This appeal by the hospital and its insurer followed.
The issues presented by the appellants are (1) whether the authorities erred in ruling that the employer failed to carry its burden to prove that work other than that in which the claimant was engaged when injured was available to him, imposed by Barrett v. Otis Elevator Co., 431 Pa. 446, 246 A.2d 668 (1968), (2) whether the authorities capriciously disregarded evidence that lighter work which the appellee could do was available, and (3) whether the appellee presented sufficient competent evidence that he could not perform such lighter work.
The claimant testified in chief that he was totally unable to work because of his persistently painful back and that he sometimes required emergency treatment by a chiropractor, who, incidentally, did not testify. Woolensack's treating physician testified that the claimant could not perform his former duties as a plumber but that he could do other types of "selected jobs, if he were able to find such to do."
In its case, the appellants introduced the report of its examining physician that the appellee suffered "partial
[ 24 Pa. Commw. Page 134]
permanent disability of his body as a whole (25%)" and that he "has no motivation to get well." They also adduced the testimony of Leon A. Reid, Ph.D., an admittedly well-qualified clinical psychologist familiar both with the claimant's physical condition and with the job market in the greater Pittsburgh area that Woolensack was able to perform light work such as packaging electronic components, glass products and wearing apparel and as a tool clerk or an assembler, and that hundreds of such jobs existed in Allegheny County and Western Pennsylvania. Dr. Reid admitted on cross-examination that if the appellee was required to be treated during working hours he would be unsatisfactory for employment.
Woolensack testified in rebuttal that he at times suffered severe attacks of back pain, and that he was required at times to use crutches and to seek ...