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HUGH EDWARD PRIDDY v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (04/12/79)

decided: April 12, 1979.

HUGH EDWARD PRIDDY, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD AND LEE HEFFNER FORD, RESPONDENTS



Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of Hugh Edward Priddy v. Lee Heffner Ford, No. A-72902.

COUNSEL

Alan J. Candell, for petitioner.

Richard A. Bausher, with him Stevens & Lee, for respondent.

Judges Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer and DiSalle, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Wilkinson, Jr.

Author: Wilkinson

[ 41 Pa. Commw. Page 628]

This is an appeal from a Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board) order affirming a referee's denial of benefits to petitioner (claimant). We affirm.

While in the employ of respondent (employer), claimant, an auto body repairman, sustained a back injury on July 14, 1972, described in the subsequent compensation agreement executed by the parties as an "acute lumbo-sacral sprain." By virtue of that agreement, claimant received temporary total disability compensation for two weeks and partial disability compensation for another nine days. The agreement further reveals an acknowledgment of new employment on August 7, 1972 at no loss in earnings. On

[ 41 Pa. Commw. Page 629]

March 19, 1974, claimant experienced severe lower back pain while changing a set of automotive spark plugs and, as a result, was admitted to a hospital on April 2, 1974 where he was treated with medication, physical therapy, and bed rest. By claim petition filed June 25, 1974, claimant commenced the present action.*fn1

A thorough review of the record has failed to substantiate claimant's assertion that the referee and Board capriciously disregarded competent evidence. Claimant's medical evidence consisted of the deposition of a doctor who treated claimant during his hospital stay in April, 1974. The referee specifically rejected this testimony stating, "I am not impressed nor persuaded to any great extent by this physician's testimony. . . ."

Where the Board has not taken additional evidence, the referee as the ultimate fact finder has wide latitude in weighing the probative value of offered evidence and may in proper circumstances reject even uncontradicted testimony. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board v. Guzman, 18 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 275, 334 A.2d 852 (1975). Our examination of the medical testimony satisfies us that the referee's rejection of that testimony was entirely appropriate.

By way of background it should be pointed out that this doctor's initial examination of claimant occurred more than 20 months after the 1972 accident. The doctor acknowledged that he did not have access to any medical documentation concerning claimant's medical history; for information concerning the 1972 accident and ...


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