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WILLIAM J. OWENS v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (01/03/79)

decided: January 3, 1979.

WILLIAM J. OWENS, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD AND G.A. & F.C. WAGMAN, INC., RESPONDENTS



Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of William J. Owens v. G.A. & F.C. Wagman, Inc., No. A-71757.

COUNSEL

John R. Lenahan, Jr., with him Robert J. Beirne, and Beirne, Riffle and Foster, for petitioner.

Franklin R. Innes, with him W. Marshall Dawsey, and Griffin and Dawsey, for respondent.

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

Author: Crumlish, Jr.

[ 39 Pa. Commw. Page 511]

William J. Owens (Claimant) appeals a decision of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board) which reversed the referee's award of compensation benefits.

Claimant was employed as a pile driver for approximately 11 years by G.A. & F.C. Wagman, Inc. (Employer), a bridge construction company. His job involved the lifting and setting of steel beams weighing from 20 to 100 pounds per running foot. Beginning in April, 1974, Claimant experienced intermittent pain in the shoulder, head and neck areas. The pain became increasingly severe and eventually debilitating, obliging Claimant to terminate his employment.

The record gives us the following chronology of events leading to Claimant's termination:

1. On April 15, 1974, Claimant was admitted to the Emergency Room of the Robert Packer Hospital complaining of pain in the back of his neck and his left shoulder which had been persisting for the prior two to three weeks. The treating physician found spasms of the cervical muscle group, and x-rays pictured osteoarthritis of the cervical spine. Claimant was prescribed a cervical collar and muscle relaxants.

2. Claimant returned to his physician on April 24, 1974, complaining of no improvement. Traction and heat massage were prescribed and medication was continued.

3. Claimant again visited his physician on May 1, 1974. Although he continued to experience pain in his left shoulder, improvement was apparent. He was instructed to return to work.

4. On May 13, 1974, Claimant returned for re-examination complaining that as the result of lifting a steel beam, he injured his back, shoulder and neck to the extent that he was unable to raise his arms

[ 39 Pa. Commw. Page 512]

    above his head. An examination revealed an acute strain of the muscle group that lies along the spine.

5. A re-examination on May 17 revealed that Claimant's back pain was considerably improved and he was instructed to return to work.

6. On July 11, 1974 Claimant returned for examination and it was determined that he was suffering from a chronic cervical strain.

7. On October 9, 1974, Claimant was examined once again when he was advised that he had a chronic cervical strain with possible discogenic disease of the cervical spine. His physician told him that he was unable to work in his present condition and was referred to an orthopedic surgeon. An examination by the orthopedic surgeon on October 6, 1974, revealed severe osteoarthritis, with cervical root irritation in the ...


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