Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Centre County in case of George A. College v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, No. 1977-1902.
Mary Ellen Krober, Assistant Attorney General, for appellant.
Wilson H. Oldhouser, with him James N. Diefenderfer, for appellees.
Judges Mencer, Blatt and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Mencer.
[ 39 Pa. Commw. Page 436]
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has appealed from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Centre County affirming an award of benefits to George A. College (claimant) pursuant to Section 301(i) of The Pennsylvania Occupational Disease Act (Act), Act of June 21, 1939, P.L. 566, as amended, added by Section 4 of the Act of November 10, 1965, P.L. 695, 77 P.S. § 1401(i). We reverse.
The relevant facts are not in dispute and can be briefly stated. The claimant was employed as a laborer
[ 39 Pa. Commw. Page 437]
in a coal mine in Pennsylvania from 1922 until 1927, at which time he left the mine and never again worked in the coal industry. On June 2, 1976, the claimant became totally disabled from anthracosilicosis as a result of his exposure to dust in the coal mines almost fifty years earlier. On June 17, 1976, claimant filed an occupational disease claim petition, alleging that the Commonwealth was liable for the payment of compensation pursuant to Section 301(i) of the Act. The referee's award of benefits under this section was subsequently affirmed by the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board and by the lower court, and this appeal followed.
The sole issue before us is the proper interpretation of Section 301(i), which provides, inter alia, as follows:
(i) Notwithstanding any other provisions of this act, compensation for silicosis, anthracosilicosis, coal worker's pneumoconiosis, and asbestosis shall be paid for each month beginning with the month this amending act becomes effective, or beginning with the first month of disability, whichever occurs later, at the rate of seventy-five dollars ($75) per month, to every employe totally disabled thereby as a result of exposure thereto, who has not theretofore been compensated because his claim was barred by any of the time limitations prescribed by this act, and shall continue during the period of such total disability. . . . All such compensation to those whose last exposure precedes the effective date of this amending act shall be paid by the Commonwealth. (Emphasis added.)
At the time of claimant's employment in the coal mines, Pennsylvania had no occupational disease statute, and The Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act, Act of ...