Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of Donald D. Porretto v. General Electric Company, No. A-75923.
P. Ronald Cooper, Reding, Rea & Cooper, for petitioners.
Damon J. Faldowski, Phillips & Faldowski, for respondent, Donald D. Porretto.
Judges Wilkinson, Jr., Blatt and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. President Judge Crumlish and Judges Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers, Blatt, Craig and MacPhail. Judge Williams, Jr. did not participate. Opinion by Judge Blatt. Judge Wilkinson, Jr. did not participate in the decision in this case. Judge MacPhail dissents.
[ 61 Pa. Commw. Page 512]
The petitioners, who were the General Electric Company (employer) and its insurer, appeal a decision of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board) affirming a referee's finding that the claimant,
[ 61 Pa. Commw. Page 513]
Donald D. Porretto, was totally disabled from July 18, 1977 to March 10, 1978.
The claimant worked in a variety of positions beginning in 1964 and was employed as a parts delivery attendant at all times relevant to the claim here concerned. He contends that he was disabled in the course of his employment as a result of striking his head on the top of his delivery truck's doorway once on April 11, 1977 and again on an undetermined day in late May of the same year. Subsequently he was moved from day to night shift. On July 25, 1977 he notified his employer of the work-related incidents which he said had occurred in April and May and had requested that his supervisor remove him from the night shift because the hours and duties were having an adverse effect on his health. On the same day he was discharged by his employer due to a "lack of suitable work status."
The record indicates that the claimant was suffering from back and neck pain, that he was losing weight and that he lacked energy, but there was sharply conflicting medical evidence presented as to the cause of his disability. The claimant introduced a deposition from Dr. Paul J. Harbosky, a chiropractor treating the claimant, who testified that he had examined the claimant on July 18, 1977 and found him to have disc hypertrophy and "military neck" which he described as a straightening or loss of curvature of the cervical spine. Dr. Harbosky further testified that he had again examined the claimant in December of 1977 and that, although he had made some improvement, the claimant was still disabled by these conditions and that they had resulted from the employment-related incidents in which the claimant reported that he had twice struck his head on the doorway of his employer's truck. The claimant also introduced a letter from a Dr. Sherman,
[ 61 Pa. Commw. Page 514]
written to the claimant's attorney, which stated that Dr. Sherman had examined the claimant on November 17, 1977, but was unable to find any medical basis for the claimant's complaints and that the reported symptoms were emotional reactions to the change in his work schedule. The employer produced medical testimony ...