Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of Haven B. Stanley v. U.S. Steel Corporation, No. A-74536.
R. M. Guttshall, III, for petitioner.
Edwin H. Beachler, with him McArdle, Caroselli, Spagnolli & Beachler, for respondent.
Judges Crumlish, Jr., Mencer and Rogers, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Mencer.
[ 46 Pa. Commw. Page 353]
United States Steel Corporation (U.S. Steel) has appealed an order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board) setting aside a final receipt and reinstating compensation to Haven B. Stanley (claimant) pursuant to Section 434 of The Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act (Act), Act of June 2, 1915, P.L. 736, as amended, 77 P.S. § 1001. We affirm.
Claimant, a pipe straightener for U.S. Steel, suffered a compensable back injury on March 4, 1976 which aggravated a pre-existing lumbosacral spondylolisthesis.*fn1 Pursuant to a compensation agreement entered into by claimant and U.S. Steel, claimant was compensated at the rate of $177.73 per week beginning March 20, 1976. On January 6, 1977, claimant signed a final receipt terminating compensation.
Alleging that all disability resulting from his injury had not ceased or terminated when he signed the final receipt and that he was currently disabled because of the March 4, 1976 injury, claimant filed a petition to set aside the receipt on June 8, 1977. After a hearing, at which conflicting medical testimony was presented concerning the causal connection between claimant's present disability and his prior injury, the referee set aside the receipt and reinstated compensation. Upon the Board's affirmance, U.S. Steel appealed to this Court.
[ 46 Pa. Commw. Page 354]
While admitting that claimant is currently disabled, U.S. Steel asserts there is no evidence to support the referee's finding that claimant's present disability is caused by the March 4, 1976 injury. We disagree.
A review of the direct testimony of Dr. Robert F. Botkin, claimant's physician, indicates that the referee could reasonably infer the following: (1) that the March 4, 1976 injury aggravated claimant's pre-existing back condition; (2) that claimant's present condition is the result of a traumatic injury which aggravated claimant's spondylolisthesis; (3) that the traumatic injury causing claimant's present disability is the March 4, 1976 injury since it was the only injury concerning which testimony was given; and (4) that claimant has been continually disabled since his injury. This evidence, combined with claimant's own testimony describing his continuing disability, constitutes substantial evidence to support the referee's findings. See Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp., 22 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 469, 349 A.2d 793 (1975); Universal Cyclops v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, 13 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 375, 320 A.2d 449 (1974).
U.S. Steel argues, however, that Dr. Botkin, on cross-examination, so qualified his prior statements on the causal relationship between claimant's disability and injury that his testimony could not be used to support the referee's findings. Again, we must disagree, for our review of the record indicates that, when questioned on the possibility that claimant's present disability was caused by some other factor, Dr. Botkin either could not express an opinion because he lacked sufficient information or, while admitting the possibility, ...