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R.F. POST v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (10/19/77)

decided: October 19, 1977.

R.F. POST, INC., PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD AND MILDRED J. WILLIAMS, WIDOW OF FRANKLIN E., RESPONDENTS



Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of Mildred J. Williams, widow of Franklin E. Williams, deceased, v. R.F. Post, Inc., No. A-71320.

COUNSEL

John R. Lenahan, Jr., with him Lenahan, Dempsey & Murphy, for petitioner.

Thomas J. Jones, for respondent.

Judges Crumlish, Jr., Wilkinson, Jr. and Rogers, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Wilkinson, Jr.

Author: Wilkinson

[ 32 Pa. Commw. Page 204]

This appeal arises from an order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board) affirming a referee's granting of survival benefits to claimant. We affirm.

Claimant filed a fatal claim petition on September 25, 1974. Her husband, a truck driver employed by petitioner, died on July 9, 1974 of a myocardial infarction. It was stipulated that decedent died while in the course of his employment. After an evidentiary

[ 32 Pa. Commw. Page 205]

    hearing, at which conflicting medical testimony was given, the referee found that decedent's heart attack was related to his employment and awarded benefits. Upon appeal the Board affirmed and this appeal was filed.

At issue is the competency of the medical opinion of decedent's physician who testified that decedent's death was "job-related." After reviewing a transcript of the testimony, the death certificate and the autopsy report the witness concluded:

[T]he amount of physical activity that [the decedent] did that day under the climatic circumstances that existed, produced probable sweating, loss of sodium and potassium, leading to a metabolic imbalance which precipitated an acute myocardial infarction. . . .

First, petitioner contends that the opinion is incompetent because the witness considered climatic circumstances in determining whether decedent's heart attack was job related. We disagree. Injuries caused in whole or in part by climatic conditions have long been recognized as compensable in Pennsylvania under the "unusual pathological result" doctrine. Westinghouse Electric Corp. v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, 11 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 369, 314 A.2d 48 (1974). Similarly, we believe that under the 1972 amendments to The Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act, Act of June 2, 1915, P.L. 736, as amended, 77 P.S. ยง 1 et seq., climatic conditions in which a job is performed are clearly work-related and injuries arising from such conditions are compensable. Further, we find no support for petitioner's suggestion that only injuries caused by factors over which an employer exercises control are work-related.

Secondly, petitioner contends that the opinion of claimant's expert is incompetent because the witness assumed facts not ...


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