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DUQUESNE LIGHT COMPANY v. CATHERINE GURICK (WIDOW) (09/20/79)

decided: September 20, 1979.

DUQUESNE LIGHT COMPANY, PETITIONER
v.
CATHERINE GURICK (WIDOW), RESPONDENT



Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of Nick Gurick v. Duquesne Light Company, Warwick Mines and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, No. A-74697.

COUNSEL

John A. Lee, for petitioner.

Anthony J. Kovach, for respondent.

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

Author: Disalle

[ 46 Pa. Commw. Page 151]

Duquesne Light Company (Petitioner) seeks a reversal of the order of the Workmen's Compensation

[ 46 Pa. Commw. Page 152]

Appeal Board (Board) granting compensation to Catherine Gurick (Claimant) for the death of Nick Gurick, her husband. To this end, Petitioner assigns three allegations of error: (1) that the medical testimony failed to establish that Nick Gurick's death resulted from occupational disease; (2) that Claimant's dependency on her husband was never established; and, (3) that Petitioner did not receive timely notice of Nick Gurick's death.

Relying on our recent decision in Consolidation Coal Co. v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, 37 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 412, 391 A.2d 14 (1978), Petitioner postulates that the testimony of Dr. Ayres, the only medical expert to present evidence, failed to establish that the death of Nick Gurick resulted from coalworker's pneumoconiosis, with emphysema, and cor pulmonale, severe. Rather, it is contended that this testimony indicates that these occupational diseases merely contributed to his demise. When we review Dr. Ayres' deposition, we find that the causes of death were occlusive coronary arteriosclerosis, cardiac hypertrophy, cardiac arrest, coal miner's pneumoconiosis, with emphysema, and, cor pulmonale, severe. Dr. Ayres repeatedly asserted that the occupational diseases were "one of the causes of death." Thus, it appears that Dr. Ayres believed all of the named conditions were equally responsible for his death.*fn1

[ 46 Pa. Commw. Page 153]

In Consolidation Coal Co. we were accutely aware of the difficulty of obtaining medical evidence which unequivocally pinpoints the cause of death in cases where the deceased suffered from a number of interrelated diseases. Here, however, Dr. Ayres did not equivocate. In his opinion, pneumoconiosis was a cause of death; that is, it resulted in his death. Consequently, and especially in light of the humanitarian purpose of The Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act (Act),*fn2 we determine that there was substantial evidence in this record to support the Board's decision that Nick Gurick's death resulted from occupational disease.

With regard to the question of dependency, we note that this issue is peculiarly a question of fact for the compensation ...


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