Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of James Davis v. Jones & laughlin Steel Corporation and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, No. A-72486.
Raymond F. Keisling, with him Will & Keisling, for petitioner.
Thomas W. Henderson, with him Patrick F. McArdle, and McArdle, Henderson, Caroselli, Spagnolli & Beachler, for respondent, Davis.
Sandra S. Christianson, Assistant Attorney General, for respondent, Commonwealth.
Judges Blatt, DiSalle and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge DiSalle.
This case comes before us by way of a petition for review of an order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board) affirming a referee's decision assessing workmen's compensation liability pursuant to The Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act (Act)*fn1 exclusively against the Jones & Laughlin Steel Corporation (Employer) for the benefit of James Davis (Claimant). The referee found as a fact that Claimant became totally disabled due to silicosis and anthraco-silicosis on January 2, 1975, as a result of his exposure to silica dust and coal dust hazards during his term of employment with the Employer. In a subsequent finding of fact and, more importantly, in the ultimate award of compensation, the referee assessed the full amount on the Employer pursuant to Section 108(k) of the Act, added by Section 1 of the Act of October 17, 1972, P.L. 930, as amended, 77 P.S. 27.1(k).*fn2
The only issue presented by this case is whether Employer should be solely responsible for paying the
compensation award.*fn3 Employer contends that since the referee found that Claimant's total disability was caused by both silicosis and anthraco-silicosis, deriving from exposure to silica dust and coal dust,*fn4 and
these occupational diseases as they relate to the coal dust hazard are set forth in Section 108(q) of the Act, added by Section 1 of the Act of October 17, 1972, P.L. 930, as amended, 77 P.S. 27.1(q),*fn5 the joint liability provisions of Section 305.1 of the Act, added by Section 2 of the Act of December 6, 1972, P.L. 1627, 77 P.S. § 411.1,*fn6 should have been applied. And, since the operative date of the disability in this case is admitted as being January 2, 1975, Section 305.1 would impose equal liability on Employer and the Commonwealth for the compensation awarded Claimant.
Initially, we note that Section 427 of the Act, added by Section 3 of the Act of February 8, 1972, P.L. 25, 77 P.S. § 876.1, provides that this Court's scope of review in workmen's compensation cases is that defined in Section 44 of the Administrative Agency Law, Act of June 4, 1945, P.L. 1388, as amended, 71 P.S. § 1710.44, which limits us to a determination of whether or not an error of law was committed, constitutional rights were violated or findings of fact necessary for the adjudication are unsupported by substantial evidence. Since the referee's findings of fact are undisputed and, indeed, are not the subject of this ...