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OSCAR MAYER & COMPANY v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (03/31/82)

decided: March 31, 1982.

OSCAR MAYER & COMPANY, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD AND EUGENE MANZI, RESPONDENTS



Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in the case of Eugene Manzi v. Oscar Mayer & Co., No. A-79072.

COUNSEL

John P. Kopesky, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, for petitioner.

Lee A. Solomon, with him Thomas B. Rutter, Ltd., for respondent, Eugene Manzi.

Judges Mencer, Blatt and Doyle, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Blatt.

Author: Blatt

[ 65 Pa. Commw. Page 515]

The petitioner, Oscar Mayer & Company, seeks review of a decision of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board) which upheld a referee's ruling denying the petitioner's request to terminate total disability benefits which were being paid to the respondent, Eugene Manzi.

In February of 1977, the petitioner entered into an agreement with Mr. Manzi to pay compensation for total disability after he incurred an injury in the course of his employment when a meat rack fell on his head, shoulders and back.*fn1 In December of 1979, the petitioner asked to terminate or modify these benefits because, it contended, Mr. Manzi was no longer totally disabled and there was suitable work in the local marketplace available to him. A hearing was conducted at which the petitioner produced medical testimony that Mr. Manzi no longer suffered any

[ 65 Pa. Commw. Page 516]

    physical disabilities as a result of his work-related injury. The deposition of a vocational specialist, Dr. Spergel, was also introduced to establish that numerous jobs were available in the area which Mr. Manzi could perform. Mr. Manzi submitted the February 12, 1980 report of his psychiatrist, Dr. DeSilverio, which concluded that

Mr. Manzi is suffering from a traumatic neurosis manifested principally by an inordinate fear of working around dangerous machinery and at the Oscar Mayer Company in particular. This fear would not only preclude his successful functioning in any such job but would likely enhance the possibility of further injury because of the disorganizing effect such fear would have upon him in the working environment.

The referee concluded that Mr. Manzi's injuries continued to prevent him from obtaining gainful employment and that, because he was still totally disabled, the termination petition must be denied. The Board affirmed the referee's decision and this petition for review was then filed.

The petitioner maintains that Dr. DeSilverio's 1980 report should be interpreted to mean that Mr. Manzi's traumatic neurosis affects him only in a working environment which contains dangerous machinery, not in other areas of employment, and that the referee erred in concluding that Mr. Manzi could not engage in gainful employment.

In workmen's compensation cases, the referee is the factfinder and he is entitled to evaluate the evidence and to resolve conflicting testimony, K-Mart Corp. v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, 56 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 52, 424 A.2d 956 ...


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