Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in the case of Michael A. Lamanna v. Canterbury Coal Company, No. A-77784.
James H. Owen, Nickleach and Owen, for petitioner.
George H. Thompson, with him Paul E. Sutter, Hirsch, Weise & Tillman, for respondents.
President Judge Crumlish, Jr. and Judges Rogers and Craig, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig.
[ 62 Pa. Commw. Page 536]
Michael Lamanna, claimant, has appealed the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board's affirmance of a referee's decision dismissing his claim petition.*fn1 Claimant's petition alleged total disability as a result of coal worker's pneumoconiosis.
Claimant's uncontradicted testimony was that he had been employed by respondent Canterbury Coal Company (Canterbury) from 1961 through 1978, and that he had been exposed to coal dust at work for approximately 48 years.
[ 62 Pa. Commw. Page 537]
Claimant raises two issues on this appeal. Did the referee capriciously disregard competent medical evidence?*fn2 Did the referee or the board err as a matter of law in failing to appoint an impartial physician to examine claimant and make a report?
With respect to the first issue, the referee was confronted by two divergent medical opinions. Claimant's physician testified that claimant has coal worker's pneumoconiosis and is disabled from it. Canterbury's physician testified that claimant does not have coal worker's pneumoconiosis, does not have any significant respiratory impairment, and is able to return to work without any restrictions due to pulmonary problems. The referee found the evidence submitted by Canterbury's physician more persuasive than that of claimant's physician.
Dr. Garrettson who testified for Canterbury is board certified in internal medicine. After performing a complete pulmonary evaluation, he concluded and testified that an x-ray of claimant revealed no evidence of coal miner's pneumoconiosis. Dr. Garrettson also conducted pulmonary function studies which he felt were representative of a normal spirogram.
Dr. Garrettson's deposition constitutes evidence which could lead a reasonable person to doubt the contrary evidence offered by claimant's physician.*fn3 The ...