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DOROTHY M. HAUCK v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (12/06/79)

decided: December 6, 1979.

DOROTHY M. HAUCK, WIDOW OF CHARLES LYLE HAUCK, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD AND KOCHER COAL COMPANY, RESPONDENTS



Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of Dorothy M. Hauck, widow of Charles Lyle Hauck v. Kocher Coal Company, No. A-74248.

COUNSEL

Wilson H. Oldhouser, for petitioner.

Lawrence W. Dague, with him Larry A. Makel, Assistant Attorney General, Joseph A. Lach, and Lenahan, Dempsey & Piazza, for respondents.

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

Author: Mencer

[ 47 Pa. Commw. Page 555]

Dorothy M. Hauck (claimant) appeals an order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board) denying her fatal claim petition, filed pursuant to The Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act (Workmen's Compensation Act), Act of June 2, 1915, P.L. 736, as amended, 77 P.S. § 1 et seq. Her husband, Charles L. Hauck (decedent), allegedly died from anthracosilicosis contracted while employed in various anthracite mines in Pennsylvania. We affirm.

Decedent retired from Kocher Coal Company (Kocher), his employer since 1971, on March 31, 1976. On June 5, 1976, he was examined by Dr. William Darkes, who determined that claimant was totally disabled because of anthracosilicosis, an occupational disease under Section 108(q) of the Workmen's Compensation Act, added by Section 1 of the Act of October 17, 1972, P.L. 930, 77 P.S. § 27.1(q). Decedent died on November 7, 1976 before a petition for lifetime benefits could be filed.

[ 47 Pa. Commw. Page 556]

At the referee's hearing, claimant offered both the testimony of Dr. Darkes and a certified copy of decedent's death certificate to establish the cause of decedent's death as anthracosilicosis. Kocher objected to the death certificate as hearsay, and the referee admitted it only to establish the date of death. Neither Kocher nor the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania*fn1 offered any evidence. The referee, finding that claimant had not sustained her burden on the cause of death, denied her petition. Upon the Board's affirmance, claimant's appeal to this Court followed.

Claimant, relying on Section 810 of the Vital Statistics Law of 1953 (Act), Act of June 29, 1953, P.L. 304, as amended, 35 P.S. § 450.810, argues that the referee erred in not admitting the death certificate as evidence of the cause of decedent's death. Section 810 provides, in pertinent part:

Any record or duly certified copy of a record or part thereof which is (1) filed with the department in accordance with the provisions of this act and the regulations of the Advisory Health Board and which (2) is not a 'delayed' record filed under section seven hundred two of this act [35 P.S. § 450.702] or a record 'corrected' under section seven hundred three of this act [35 P.S. § 450.703] shall constitute prima facie evidence of its contents. . . .

Since death certificates are required to be filed with the Department of Health pursuant to Section 501 of the Act, 35 P.S. § 450.501, and decedent's certificate was ...


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