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BARNES AND TUCKER COMPANY v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (01/25/79)

COMMONWEALTH COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA


decided: January 25, 1979.

BARNES AND TUCKER COMPANY, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD AND FRANK SEWALISH, RESPONDENTS

Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of Frank Sewalish v. Barnes and Tucker Company, No. A-73121.

COUNSEL

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

Gerald Long, with him Blair V. Pawlowski and James N. Diefenderfer, for respondents.

Judge Mencer, Blatt and Craig, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Mencer.

Author: Mencer

[ 40 Pa. Commw. Page 153]

Frank Sewalish (claimant) was employed as a wireman for Barnes and Tucker Company (employer). Claimant's job involved lifting 200-pound sections of wire. On June 11, 1974, while engaged in this strenuous work, claimant experienced severe chest pains. He was taken to a hospital where his condition was misdiagnosed as "bursitis" and he was cleared to return to work. Claimant continued to experience milder chest pains until July 27, 1974, when the pain became so severe he was again forced to stop working. He was again taken to the hospital where his chest pains were correctly recognized as manifestations of a heart condition. Claimant was referred to a heart specialist, Dr. Siroos Samadani, who determined that claimant was suffering from coronary artery disease (atherosclerosis). One of claimant's arteries was almost totally occluded, and another was 70 percent occluded. Dr. Samadani performed a vein-bypass operation to improve claimant's circulation, and his recovery was regarded as good. However, claimant

[ 40 Pa. Commw. Page 154]

    will not be able to return to strenuous work in the foreseeable future.*fn1

A referee awarded workmen's compensation benefits to the claimant, the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board affirmed, and the employer's appeal to this Court followed.

The employer has raised only one issue: "[w]hether the Referee's finding that claimant's disability from coronary artery disease is causally related to his employment with the defendant is supported by sufficient, competent evidence." We think that the evidence amply supports the finding. Dr. Samadani testified repeatedly and unequivocally that, in his opinion, the strenuous work which claimant was performing aggravated the coronary artery disease to the point of disabling the claimant on July 27, 1974. This unequivocal testimony is certainly sufficient to support the referee's finding of a causal relationship between the claimant's employment and his disability. See Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board v. G.M. & W. Coal Co., 29 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 138, 370 A.2d 386 (1977). The employer argues that what Dr. Samadani meant to say was that the strenuous work simply resulted in chest pains which were merely symptoms of the disease.*fn2 Dr. Samadani did state that the claimant's exertion resulted in his chest pains, but he also stated that the exertion aggravated the disease itself, not merely the symptoms.*fn3

[ 40 Pa. Commw. Page 155]

Accordingly, we make the following

Order

And Now, this 25th day of January, 1979, the order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, dated September 15, 1977, is hereby affirmed. Accordingly, it is ordered that judgment be entered in favor of Frank Sewalish and against Barnes and

[ 40 Pa. Commw. Page 156]

Tucker Company, in the amount of $106 per week, beginning July 28, 1974 and continuing until such time as disability changes in nature or extent or ceases and terminates, together with interest at the rate of 10 percent per annum on deferred payments of compensation from the date due to the date paid, all within the terms and limits of The Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act.

Disposition

Affirmed.


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