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ROCKWOOD AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (01/09/78)

decided: January 9, 1978.

ROCKWOOD AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD AND ALICE H. TIPTON, WIDOW OF JACK E. TIPTON, RESPONDENTS



Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of Alice H. Tipton, Widow of Jack E. Tipton v. Rockwood Area School District, No. A-71295.

COUNSEL

Robert G. Rose, with him Spence, Custer, Saylor, Wolfe & Rose, for petitioner.

Samuel D. Clapper, with him Nathaniel A. Barbera, and Barbera and Barbera, and James N. Diefenderfer, for respondents.

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

Author: Crumlish

[ 33 Pa. Commw. Page 251]

The Rockwood Area School District (Petitioner) appeals to us from a decision of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board) which remanded the case to the referee for a clarification of his findings on two key issues.

Petitioner comes to us alleging that there was competent evidence to support the referee's findings and that the Board, without taking further evidence, erred by substituting its findings of fact for those of the referee.

[ 33 Pa. Commw. Page 252]

The decedent, Jack E. Tipton, was the Superintendent of Schools for the Rockwood Area School District, and acting principal for the Rockwood Area High School. On the last day of the 1972-73 school year, Mr. Tipton suffered a fatal heart attack, and his widow (Claimant/Respondent) thereafter filed for workmen's compensation benefits alleging a causal relation between decedent's work and his death. The referee disallowed Claimant's petition finding that decedent's death was the result of the natural progression of his pre-existing cardiac condition and was not causally connected with his work. Claimant appealed to the Board contending that the referee's findings were not based on competent evidence. The Board agreed and remanded the case to the referee for a clarification of his findings on the issues of stress and the cause of death.

Although Respondent has not challenged our jurisdiction to hear this appeal, we must address that issue, and, in so doing, conclude that Petitioner's appeal is premature.

As a general rule, a remand order to a referee is interlocutory and therefore not appealable. Exceptions are applied in situations where the remand would serve no judicial purpose. In United Metal Fabricators, Inc. v. Zindash, 8 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 339, 301 A.2d 708 (1973), we granted an appeal and set aside a remand order of the Board where the record showed that no other conclusion, but that of the referee, could be supported, and the only purpose to be served by a rehearing was delay. In Riley Stoker Corp. v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, 9 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 533, 308 A.2d 205 (1973), we vacated a remand order where the record established that the appeal from the referee's order had not been timely filed.

[ 33 Pa. Commw. Page 253]

Clearly, the exception noted in Riley Stoker, supra, has no application to this case. As to the exception in Zindash, supra, a ...


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