Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in the case of Charles F. Byrd, No. A-79067.
Mark L. Mazzanti, with him Brian R. Steiner, for petitioner.
Richard D. Harburg, Swartz, Campbell & Detweiler, for respondent, The Budd Company.
Judges Rogers, Craig and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig. This decision was reached prior to the resignation of Judge Mencer.
[ 66 Pa. Commw. Page 373]
In this workmen's compensation appeal, the claimant questions an order by the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board which affirmed a referee's decision denying benefits to the claimant; the basis of the denial was that the claimant had failed to prove that he was exposed to a disease which was causally related to his occupation, and also that the incidence of the disease was substantially greater in his occupation than in the general population.
The claimant had been employed by Budd Company since 1968 as a metal finisher. His work produced metal dust which, the claimant testified, was constantly around him during the day. Growths began to appear on the claimant's face in September 1977, identified by the claimant's physician, Dr. Castillo, as multiple verrucae or, more commonly, warts.
[ 66 Pa. Commw. Page 374]
Initial surgical treatment for the condition provided temporary relief, but the claimant testified that the growths reappeared after he returned to work in March 1978. Regular treatment by Dr. Castillo did not alleviate the claimant's condition and again, in July 1978, the claimant underwent a surgical procedure to remove the warts. As a result of the surgery, the claimant was disfigured by temporary skin discoloration and permanent scars. After the second surgery, he did not return to work.
During the time of his hospitalization and recovery, the claimant, at the suggestion of his employer, applied for and received accident and sickness insurance benefits for a non-occupational injury. On the applications for those benefits, the claimant's physician indicated that the injury was non-occupational, but as Dr. Castillo testified, his opinion has changed since that time.
The referee received conflicting medical testimony on the question of whether the claimant's employment conditions caused the warts to develop on his face. The claimant's physician, a plastic surgeon, testified that the metal dust in the claimant's employment environment caused contact dermatitis in the skin of the claimant's face. Dr. Castillo further stated that the contact dermatitis condition caused a local tissue immunological deficiency which permitted the wart virus to develop and propagate on the claimant's face.
A dermatologist, Dr. Parrish, testified on behalf of the employer that there was no relationship between the dust that the claimant was exposed to at work and the warts which developed on the claimant's face. He stated that warts are caused by a virus and not by contact dermatitis.
The referee, apparently believing Dr. Parrish, found that the claimant's warts were caused by a virus and that exposure to dust at work did not break down the skin ...