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PETER COSTANZO v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (02/07/80)

decided: February 7, 1980.

PETER COSTANZO, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD, KANE HANDLE COMPANY AND LIBERTY MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY, INSURANCE CARRIER, RESPONDENTS



Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of Peter Costanzo v. Kane Handle Company, No. A-74371.

COUNSEL

John M. Cleland, with him Woods, Baker & Cleland, for petitioner.

Harry K. Thomas, with him Knox, Graham, McLaughlin, Gornall and Sennett, Inc., for respondent.

Judges Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer and Rogers, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Mencer. Judge DiSalle did not participate in the decision in this case.

Author: Mencer

[ 49 Pa. Commw. Page 250]

This is an appeal by Peter Costanzo (claimant) from an adverse decision of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board) sustaining a referee's termination of claimant's benefits.

The claimant suffered an injury during the course of his employment with Kane Handle Company, on April 30, 1975, when he was struck in the chest by a wooden dowel expelled from a machine which he was operating. Claimant was paid total disability benefits, pursuant to his claim, from May 2, 1975 through February 8, 1976.

During the course of treatment, the claimant was diagnosed as having pre-existing organic heart disease. This condition was of either rheumatic or congenital origin but, before the injury sustained on April 30, 1975, was placid and unmanifested clinically. The medical testimony here indicates that the blow to the chest aggravated this pre-existing condition and caused the claimant's heart to fibrillate -- to beat in a very rapid and irregular manner.

The fibrillation, in the presence of a pre-existing deformed aortic valve in claimant's heart, presented a dangerous health situation requiring corrective surgery.

[ 49 Pa. Commw. Page 251]

On September 9, 1975, Dr. George J. D'Angelo performed open heart surgery and replaced the defective valve. The claimant recovered from the surgery without incident.

During February 1976, the employer filed a petition for termination based on an affidavit of Dr. D'Angelo that claimant's disability was no longer related to the blow to the chest but was solely due to pre-existing heart disease.

Following hearings on the employer's termination petition, the referee's determination was to terminate claimant's benefits as of February 9, 1976 since "the claimant's medical evidence does not affect [ sic ] a causal connection between the injury of April 30, 1975 and any disability the claimant now suffers." The referee's order of termination was appealed ...


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