Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of Catherine Krist v. National Home Life & Assurance Company, No. A-77002.
Terry W. Knox, MacElree, Harvey, Gallagher, O'Donnell & Featherman, LTD, for petitioner.
C. Robert Elicker, Jr., Klein, Elicker, Head & Knauer, for respondents.
Judges Mencer, Rogers and Palladino, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Rogers. Judge Mencer dissents.
[ 55 Pa. Commw. Page 128]
This is Catherine Krist's appeal from a decision of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board affirming a referee's determination that Mrs. Krist's disability related to her back is not compensable under The Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act, Act of June 2, 1915, P.L. 736, as amended, 77 P.S. § 1 et seq.
[ 55 Pa. Commw. Page 129]
The facts as found by the referee and supported by substantial evidence in the record are as follows:
Mrs. Krist was employed by National Home Life and Assurance Company as a mail clerk. She suffered for several years prior to the event about to be described from stiffness in her legs and occasional episodes of dizziness. While standing at the cafeteria counter during a morning coffee break, Mrs. Krist fell backwards, landing on her back and head. There was no objectively perceivable cause for the fall; and Mrs. Krist's repeated uncontradicted testimony was to the effect that she had experienced no dizziness immediately prior to the incident. Subsequent diagnosis revealed an advanced arthritic disease of the spine aggravated by the fall. She had surgery for the removal of two spinal discs and fusion with bone grafts. At the time of the hearing Mrs. Krist's condition had improved but she was still unable to walk unaided or to engage in any activities requiring standing or walking, including those of her former employment. Her surgeon testified that further significant improvement was unlikely.
The issue is whether the aggravation of Mrs. Krist's pre-existing back condition is an injury as defined by Section 301(c)(1) of the Act, 77 P.S. § 411(1), which provides:
The terms 'injury' and 'personal injury', as used in this act, shall be construed to mean an injury to an employe, regardless of his previous physical condition, arising in the course of his employment and related thereto. . . .
The referee, with whom the Appeal Board agreed, concluded that Mrs. Krist had suffered an injury in the course of her employment but that no compensation should ...