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HYGRADE FOOD PRODUCTS v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (11/19/81)

decided: November 19, 1981.

HYGRADE FOOD PRODUCTS, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD AND DORIS ROYSTER, RESPONDENTS



Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of Doris Royster v. Hygrade Food Products, No. A-78663.

COUNSEL

Paul R. Brady, III, Marshall, Dennehey, Warner, Coleman and Goggin, for petitioner.

Richard K. Teitell, Felgoise & Teitell, for respondent, Doris Royster.

Judges Blatt, Craig and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge MacPhail.

Author: Macphail

[ 62 Pa. Commw. Page 449]

In this appeal, Hygrade Food Products (Petitioner) seeks reversal of a decision by the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board) which affirmed a referee's decision that Doris Royster (Claimant) was permanently disabled as a result of injuries sustained while employed by Petitioner. We affirm.

Claimant was employed as a hot dog selector by the Petitioner. Her duties involved observation of the hot dogs as they passed before her on a moving conveyor belt, removing those hot dogs of unsuitable quality and replacing them with acceptable hot dogs. On February 4, 1974, the Claimant injured the middle finger of her right hand*fn1 when she struck it against an operating lever of the machine. On July 8, 1977, the referee issued his decision on the claim. He found that Claimant was injured as a result of her employment, such injury being diagnosed as tenosynovitis. He found that Claimant was totally disabled until May 4, 1976, at which time Claimant was found able to report to her same job because she was fitted with a functional wrist splint which enabled her to have the needed strength and dexterity for her job. The referee based this decision on testimony of Claimant's doctor, Dr. Ehrlich, who opined that Claimant could perform her job duties. The doctor admitted, however, that he based

[ 62 Pa. Commw. Page 450]

    that opinion on information given to him regarding Claimant's duties, and that he did not know exactly what the job entailed.

Claimant appealed this decision to the Board. On February 9, 1978, the Board affirmed the referee's determination of work related disability to May 4, 1976, but remanded the proceedings in regards to the finding that the disability ceased on that date. This remand was primarily for the reason that the doctor's opinion, which formed the basis for the finding, was given without full knowledge of the physical motion required for Claimant's job.

The referee received further evidence after the remand. Petitioner took moving pictures of Claimant's job as a hot dog selector and showed them to her treating physician.*fn2 Dr. Brodsky stated:*fn3 "[I]t would seem to be the case with reasonable medical certainty that [Claimant] is now and in the past has been capable of doing the tasks portrayed in the motion picture which you showed me." In an addendum to that statement, the doctor stated: "[I]t is certainly possible that [Claimant] has pain or has had pain of such degree as to interfere with her work. It is, however, not possible for me on examination to either confirm or contradict the presence of such pain." Further medical evidence from Dr. Ehrlich indicated that Claimant had developed carpel tunnel syndrome in her hand as a result of the accident. Claimant also testified after remand, indicating that her fingers constantly pained her and that she could move her fingers but not as fast as she could before the accident.

From this evidence, the referee found that "Claimant's condition has developed into ...


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