Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of William H. Bundy, Claimant v. Dequesne Light Company, Defendant, No. A-75162.
John A. Lee, for petitioner.
I. C. Bloom, of Bloom, Bloom & Associates, for appellee.
Judges Wilkinson, Jr., Rogers and Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Rogers. This decision was reached prior to the expiration of the term of office of Judge DiSalle.
The Dequesne Light Company (Duquesne) has appealed from an order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board affirming a referee's award of benefits to William H. Bundy for injuries sustained in the course of his employment for Duquesne.
Mr. Bundy was employed by Duquesne as a welder for more than thirty-two years. He sustained work related injuries to his left knee in 1973 and to his right knee in 1974 and he received workmen's compensation benefits for periods of disability on account of each incident. He returned and worked for fourteen months until March 22, 1976 when he tripped on a raised grating on the floor of Duquesne's premises and fell on his left side. Mr. Bundy was unable to return to work after that date and he was paid workmen's compensation
benefits at the rates established by his earlier injuries.
Mr. Bundy subsequently filed a claim petition for compensation benefits at higher 1976 rates, claiming that his fall on March 22, 1976 caused a new injury to his left knee. A referee conducted hearings at which Mr. Bundy and a fellow employee testified and letters from Dr. C. W. Vates and hospital records were received. The referee found that Mr. Bundy was totally disabled as the result of his March 22, 1976 injury and he awarded compensation accordingly. Duquesne appealed the award to the Board of Appeals which affirmed the referee. This appeal followed.
Duquesne first says that there is insufficient medical evidence to support a finding that a new injury on March 22, 1976 caused Mr. Bundy's disability. We disagree. The record contains letters from Mr. Bundy's treating physician, Dr. C. W. Vates, who wrote that Mr. Bundy had "numbness, pain and disability involving the left knee" after his fall on March 22, 1976 and that instability in the left knee "possibly arose from an injury" sometime in the Spring of 1976. Duquesne says that this evidence is insufficient to establish a causal relationship between the injury and the disability because Dr. Vates wrote only that the disability "possibly" arose from an injury and elsewhere that he found no evidence that a new injury had occurred between examinations performed on March 17, 1976 and April 19, 1976. While Dr. Vates' evidence is less than unequivocal, we have held that unequivocal medical testimony is required only where the causal connection between the injury and the disability is not obvious. Montgomery Mills Co. v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, 26 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 471, 364 A.2d 508 (1976). Where the record taken as a whole supports a finding of the requisite causation, equivocal statements by a physician will not preclude
the award of benefits. Owens v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, 39 Pa. Commonwealth ...