Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in the case of Lewis C. Dale v. Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel, No. A-77827.
Francis P. Massco, with him Stephen A. McCarthy, for petitioner.
William R. Caroselli, with him Edwin H. Beachler, McArdle, Caroselli, Spagnolli & Beachler, for respondent, Lewis C. Dale.
Judges Blatt, Williams, Jr. and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Blatt.
[ 61 Pa. Commw. Page 545]
The petitioner, the Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Corporation, appeals a decision of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board) which granted benefits for partial disability to the claimant, Lewis C. Dale.
The claimant was employed by the petitioner from August of 1940 through October of 1974 during which time he was exposed to deleterious gases and dust while in the performance of his assigned duties. In October of 1974, he suffered a heart attack, underwent open heart surgery on April 23, 1975 and has never returned to work. On April 18, 1975, he was examined by a specialist in pulmonary diseases and he thereafter filed a claim for workmen's compensation benefits alleging that he was totally disabled because of mixed-dust pneumoconiosis contracted in the course of his employment with the appellant. After several hearings, the referee concluded that the claimant was partially disabled from mixed-dust pneumoconiosis and the Board later affirmed the referee's grant of benefits. This appeal followed.
The appellant contends that the referee's conclusion was not supported by the evidence, arguing that, because the claimant filed for a disability pension and Social Security disability benefits on the basis of his heart condition, he has admitted that his disability
[ 61 Pa. Commw. Page 546]
did not result from pneumoconiosis. We agree that such evidence may be relevant to the issue of causation, but we do not believe it to be conclusive, and we do believe that the claimant may produce other evidence to establish the causal connection between his disability and his occupational exposure, which he did here.
The appellant further argues, however, that the claimant did not produce the requisite unequivocal medical evidence as to causation.*fn1 Yet the record indicates testimony by the claimant's medical witness that, although the claimant suffered from arteriosclerotic heart disease, pulmonary emphysema and pneumoconiosis, the latter condition alone was sufficient to "preclude his returning to his job or similar type of employment."*fn2 Although the witness did use some qualifying language in the course of his deposition, we
[ 61 Pa. Commw. Page 547]
must agree with the Board that, viewed in its entirety, his testimony was unequivocal.*fn3 Martinique v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, 45 ...