Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Mifflin County in the case of Kenneth L. Wilson v. International Peripheral Systems, Inc. and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, No. 312 of 1978.
Helen Arseniu White, for appellant.
Lisa Roth, Assistant Attorney General, for appellees.
Judges Wilkinson, Jr., Blatt and Williams, Jr., sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Blatt.
Kenneth L. Wilson (claimant) appeals from a decision of the Mifflin County Court of Common Pleas which upheld the decision of the Workmen's Compensation Appeals Board (Board) affirming a referee's denial of benefits.
In order to bring within the terms of the Pennsylvania Occupational Disease Act (Act)*fn1 a disease which has not been specifically designated as an "occupational disease" in the Act, the claimant must bear the burden of proving that his claim meets all the criteria set out in Section 108(n) of the Act, 77 P.S. § 1208(n), Boniecke v. McGraw-Edison Co., 252 Pa. Superior Ct. 467, 381 A.2d 1301 (1977), which provides in pertinent part:
The term 'occupational disease,' as used in this act, shall mean only the following diseases:
(n) All other occupational diseases (1) to which the claimant is exposed by reason of his employment, and (2) which are peculiar to the
industry or occupation, and (3) which are not common to the general population.
A disease which exists in the general public may be considered to be an occupational disease if it is shown by competent evidence that the disease is peculiar to the claimant's occupation by its causes and the characteristics of its manifestation. Polansky Bakery v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, 39 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 189, 394 A.2d 1324 (1978). Where no obvious causal connection exists between the claimed disability and the allegedly causative work activity, however, the claimant has the burden of establishing the existence of such a causal relationship by means of unequivocal medical testimony, Blackwood Turf and Rockwood Insurance Co. v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, 52 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 638, 415 A.2d 1291 (1980), and evidence which is less than positive or based on mere possibilities is not legally sufficient to establish causality. George v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, 49 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 435, 411 A.2d 294 (1980).
Where the party with the burden of proof did not prevail below, of course, our scope of review is limited to determining whether the findings of fact are consistent with each other and with the conclusions of law and can be sustained without a capricious disregard of competent evidence. Stillman Automotive Center, Inc. v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, 55 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 247, 422 A.2d 1233 (1980). And, in a workmen's compensation case, where the Board took no additional evidence, as is the case here, the referee is the ultimate factfinder as to questions of credibility, conflicting medical evidence, and the weight to be given the evidence. Roadway ...