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R.G. JOHNSON COMPANY AND TWIN CITY FIRE INSURANCE COMPANY v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (01/12/79)

decided: January 12, 1979.

R.G. JOHNSON COMPANY AND TWIN CITY FIRE INSURANCE COMPANY, PETITIONERS
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD AND STRATTON J. COMBS, RESPONDENTS



Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of Stratton J. Combs v. R.G. Johnson Company and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, No. A-72643.

COUNSEL

Fred C. Trenor, with him Meyer, Darragh, Buckler, Bebenek & Eck, for petitioners.

Benjamin L. Costello, for respondents.

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

Author: Macphail

[ 40 Pa. Commw. Page 23]

This is an appeal by R.G. Johnson Company (Company) and its insurer from an order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board) affirming the referee's award of benefits to Stratton J. Combs (Claimant) whom the referee found to be permanently

[ 40 Pa. Commw. Page 24]

    and totally disabled by anthraco-silicosis. We affirm.

Claimant had been employed by various coal companies from 1945 to 1946, and from 1950 to July 31, 1973. He was last employed by the Company as a driller. On January 6, 1975, the Claimant filed his claim for benefits under the provisions of Section 305.1 of The Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act (Act), Act of June 2, 1915, P.L. 736, as amended, added by Section 2 of the Act of December 6, 1972, P.L. 1627, 77 P.S. ยง 411.1. After hearing the testimony of the Claimant and the employer's representative and considering the depositions of the medical witnesses (one for Claimant and one for the Company), the referee found that the Claimant became totally and permanently disabled due to anthraco-silicosis and that that disability resulted in whole or in part from his exposure to the hazard of coal dust while employed in the coal mining industry and particularly by the Company, his last employer.

The Company contends that the award should be set aside because there was not substantial competent evidence to support the referee's findings and because the presumption set forth in Section 301(e) of the Act*fn1 was overcome by the Company's countervailing evidence.

Concerning the question of permanent and total disability, Dr. Ianuzzi, the Claimant's physician, testified as follows:

[ 40 Pa. Commw. Page 25]

It is my professional opinion that Stratton Combs is totally and permanently disabled due to coal worker's pneumoconiosis and that this condition is the result of his ...


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