Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in the case of James A. Maraney v. Republic Steel Corporation, No. A-79807.
Anthony J. Kovach, Kovach and Kovach, for petitioner.
Linton L. Moyer, with him Edward A. McFarland, Thomson, Rhodes & Grigsby, for respondent, Republic Steel Corporation.
Judges Mencer, Rogers and Williams, Jr., sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Williams, Jr. This decision was reached prior to the resignation of Judge Mencer.
[ 66 Pa. Commw. Page 534]
This case comes before the Court on an appeal of a decision of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board), which dismissed the claim filed by James Maraney (claimant), on the theory that Republic Steel Corporation (Republic) was not the employer liable to pay the claimant for his occupational disease.
[ 66 Pa. Commw. Page 535]
Claimant's pertinent employment record indicates that he worked for respondent Republic from 1968 until the last working day of January, 1974. Thereafter, he was employed by Jones & Laughlin Steel Corporation (Jones & Laughlin) from March 1, 1974 until he retired on October 28, 1974. Approximately three months later, claimant filed a claim for total disability from coal miner's pneumoconiosis against Jones & Laughlin. That claim, denied by the referee, was never appealed.
On August 26, 1977, claimant filed another pneumoconiosis claim, naming both Jones & Laughlin and Republic as liable employers. At the first hearing on the matter, however, the claimant withdrew the claim against Jones & Laughlin, over Republic's objection.*fn1 The referee subsequently denied the claim against Republic, asserting that the dismissal of the 1975 claim against Jones & Laughlin operated as res judicata. Claimant appealed, and the Board remanded the case to the referee, who denied Republic's motion to join Jones & Laughlin as the liable employer,*fn2 and awarded benefits to the claimant. Republic appealed, and the Board again remanded for clarification of the "apparent inconsistency . . . that the Referee found the Claimant having knowledge of his disability approximately thirty-one (31) months prior to the occurrence of his actual total disability."
[ 66 Pa. Commw. Page 536]
Upon remand, the referee "republished" all but the confusing finding of fact, and all of her conclusions of law. She modified the inconsistent finding to read:
That the Claimant first knew he was totally disabled from coal workers' pneumoconiosis on August 5, 1977, after an examination by Dr. A. Carl Walker who informed him of the same.
Republic appealed again. The Board reversed the referee this time, and dismissed the claim petition, asserting that a certain amended portion of Section 301(c)(2) of the Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act (Act)*fn3 does not apply to this case, because it became effective after claimant's last day of employment. The Board concluded that prior to the amendment in question, liability was imposed on the last employer without regard to the amount of ...