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ATLAS MINERAL & CHEMICALS v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (10/12/79)

decided: October 12, 1979.

ATLAS MINERAL & CHEMICALS, INC., PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD AND WAYNE R. SNYDER, RESPONDENTS



Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of Wayne R. Snyder v. Atlas Mineral & Chemicals, Inc., No. A-73417.

COUNSEL

Robert P. Grim, for petitioner.

Eric L. B. Strahn, with him Ryan, Russell & McConaghy, for respondents.

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

Author: Disalle

[ 46 Pa. Commw. Page 449]

Atlas Mineral & Chemicals, Inc. (Employer), has appealed from the order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board) vacating a referee's order

[ 46 Pa. Commw. Page 450]

    and remanding the matter for further proceedings. The threshold issue for our consideration is whether the appeal should be quashed as interlocutory in nature.

On May 16, 1975, Wayne R. Snyder (Claimant) suffered a hernia while in the course of his employment with Employer. A notice of compensation payable was filed on June 10, 1975, with a final receipt being signed by Claimant on November 26, 1975. Subsequently, Claimant alleged that he reinjured this hernia in a work-related incident on March 24, 1976. Claimant filed a claim petition on June 8, 1976. On January 3, 1977, Claimant also filed a petition to set aside the final receipt and a petition for reinstatement of compensation. All three petitions were consolidated by the referee for disposition.

After three hearings, the referee filed a decision dismissing all three petitions based on his conclusion that Claimant had failed to establish that he had suffered a compensable injury relating to and resulting from the alleged injury of March 24, 1976. At these hearings, only the Claimant and his medical witness testified. With the exception of the introduction of a single exhibit, Employer limited its case to cross-examination of the witnesses. The referee's conclusion derived mainly from his finding that Claimant's medical witness equivocated on the issue of causation.

In vacating the referee's decision and remanding the matter for further consideration, the Board noted that the referee failed to address the question of whether, subsequent to being disabled by the hernia, Claimant had recovered sufficiently to return to work in at least some capacity. Further, the Board instructed the referee to consider a showing on the part of employer as to the availability of light work. The Board finally concluded that the referee capriciously

[ 46 Pa. Commw. Page 451]

    disregarded competent evidence and erred by characterizing the testimony of Claimant's medical witness as "equivocal." ...


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