Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of Jose Beccerra v. Leaseway Systems, Inc., No. A-73447.
Roger B. Wood, Harvey, Pennington, Herting and Renneisen, Ltd., for petitioners.
Martin J. Fallon, Jr., Swartz, Campbell & Detweiler, for respondents.
Judges Mencer, Craig and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge MacPhail. Dissenting Opinion by Judge Mencer.
[ 53 Pa. Commw. Page 521]
Leaseway Systems, Inc. and CNA/Insurance (Petitioners) appeal to this Court from an order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board) awarding compensation benefits to Jose Beccerra*fn1
[ 53 Pa. Commw. Page 522]
(Claimant). Petitioners raise two issues for our consideration: the validity of a compensation agreement entered into between Petitioners and Claimant and the adequacy of the referee's findings of fact. For the reasons which follow, we affirm the order of the Board in part, reverse it in part, and remand this matter for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
The facts of this case are relatively undisputed. On January 10, 1974, Claimant, a Spanish speaking individual who testified through an interpreter and who could read and speak very little English, filed a claim petition alleging that he suffered a work related injury on November 1, 1972 while employed by Petitioner Leaseway. He alleged continuing disability from that date forward. Petitioner Leaseway filed an answer denying Claimant's allegations as to injury and disability. On August 27, 1974, Claimant and Petitioners entered into a compensation agreement which provided, inter alia, that Petitioners would pay to Claimant compensation at the rate of $89.87 per week beginning December 6, 1972. Paragraph 11 of the agreement stated
It is agreed upon that employee received payment through 01-01-74 and that said payment was made timely and that no claim will be made for interest or penalties for sums paid under terms of this agreement. The question of continuing disability beyond 1/1/74 is left open.
The agreement was filed on January 13, 1975.*fn2
[ 53 Pa. Commw. Page 523]
Beginning on November 19, 1974, four hearings were held before a referee to determine whether Claimant continued to be disabled and eligible for compensation benefits after January 1, 1974. At the conclusion of the hearings, the referee found that Claimant was not disabled after January 1, 1974 and denied him benefits. Claimant appealed the referee's decision to the Board arguing that the referee erred in placing upon him the burden of proving his continuing disability rather than ...