Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in the case of Herbert Haney v. The Patterson Kelley Co., Inc., No. A-79217.
C. Daniel Higgins, for petitioner.
Edward Feege, with him Phillip H. Williams, for respondent, Patterson-Kelley Company, Inc.
Judges Mencer, Craig and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Mencer. Judge Palladino did not participate in the decision in this case.
[ 65 Pa. Commw. Page 462]
This is an appeal by Herbert Haney (claimant) from a decision of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board affirming a referee's decision which dismissed the claimant's petition for compensation. We affirm.
The claimant had been employed by the Patterson-Kelley Company, Inc. (employer) for a period of 21 years. His usual work consisted of maintenance and indoor plumbing. During the week of April 3, 1978, the claimant was required by his employer to perform strenuous outdoor labor in very cold weather.
[ 65 Pa. Commw. Page 463]
At approximately 2 a.m. on April 7, 1978, the claimant awoke at home with pain which he believed was indigestion. He took some baking soda and a glass of milk and went back to bed. The claimant reported for work and labored from 7 a.m. until approximately 8:30 or 9 a.m., when he suffered severe pain in the pit of his stomach. He left work and was subsequently admitted to the hospital.
The claimant was diagnosed by Dr. John Kauderer, a specialist in internal medicine, as having suffered a myocardial infarction or heart attack. Thereafter, the claimant filed a claim for workmen's compensation benefits, alleging that his myocardial infarction was work related. In a hearing before a referee, the only testimony presented was that of the claimant and Dr. Kauderer. The employer presented no medical testimony to rebut that of Dr. Kauderer. The referee, however, dismissed the claimant's petition for compensation, holding that the claimant failed to prove, with reasonable medical certainty, that his myocardial infarction arose in the course of his employment or was causally related thereto. The Board, relying on Consolidation Coal Co. v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, 37 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 412, 391 A.2d 14 (1978), affirmed the referee, noting that the claimant had the burden of proving that his disability resulted from work conditions, not that work conditions were a contributing factor. This appeal followed.
Heart attacks are compensable injuries under Section 301(c)(1) of The Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act (Act), Act of June 2, 1915, P.L. 736, as amended, 77 P.S. § 411(1), if they (1) arise in the course of employment and (2) are related thereto. Hudack v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, 32 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 508, 509, 379 A.2d 1074, 1075
[ 65 Pa. Commw. Page 464]
(1977), citing Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board v. Auto Express, Inc., 21 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 559, 346 A.2d 829 (1975). The second element has been interpreted to mean that a claimant must show a causal connection between his work and his heart attack. Hudack, 32 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. at 510, 379 A.2d at 1075; Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board v. Jeddo Highland Coal Co., 19 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 90, 94, 338 A.2d 744, 747 (1975). When this causal connection is not obvious, however, it must be established by unequivocal medical testimony. Faust v. Workmen's ...