Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of Sigmund M. St. Denis v. Hercoform, Inc., No. A-70567.
John A. Mihalik, with him Hummel, James & Mihalik, for petitioner.
James K. Martin, with him James N. Diefenderfer, for petitioners.
Judges Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer and Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Wilkinson, Jr.
[ 29 Pa. Commw. Page 377]
This case is an appeal from an order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board) denying claimant workmen's compensation benefits. We affirm.
Claimant has suffered from a long history of back ailments. After falling down a flight of stairs in 1968, claimant underwent two lumbar disc operations and a myelogram. His condition was further exacerbated by trauma suffered in 1970 while lifting a 200 pound keg of soda. On April 14, 1972, while working for the defendant, claimant fell into an open stairwell, falling about two feet to the floor. After the accident claimant was medically examined and returned to work. Claimant continued working, performing his usual duties although he was under medical treatment. On August 31, 1972, his employment was terminated by the defendant. Claimant filed a claim petition on June 22, 1973. Hearings were held at which conflicting medical testimony was presented. The referee's central finding reads:
7. We find as a fact that the claimant is presently totally disabled as a result of adhesive lumbar arachnoiditis of the nerve elements and that this disease process is the result of operative and diagnostic procedures caused by the accidental injury of August 1, 1968. We find as a fact that claimant's disability is due to the natural progression of his pre-existing disability and was not caused by the accident of April 14, 1972.
The referee's denial of benefits was affirmed by the Board and this appeal followed.
Claimant's first ground for appeal is that the defendant did not specifically deny in his answer facts alleged in claimant's claim petition as required by Section 416 of the Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation
[ 29 Pa. Commw. Page 378]
Act, Act of June 2, 1915, P.L. 736, as amended, 77 P.S. § 821 (Act) and that, therefore, the allegations should be deemed admitted. Section 416 reads in pertinent part:
Every fact alleged in a claim petition not specifically denied by an answer so filed by an adverse party shall be deemed to be admitted by him. But the failure of any party or of all of them to deny a fact alleged in any other petition shall not preclude the referee before whom the ...