Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in the case of Joseph M. Noel, Jr. v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corporation, No. A-79594.
James R. Duffy, for petitioner.
Raymond F. Keisling, Will & Keisling, for respondent, Jones & Laughlin Steel Corporation.
Judges Blatt, Williams, Jr. and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Williams, Jr.
[ 70 Pa. Commw. Page 568]
Joseph M. Noel, Jr. (claimant), has appealed from an order of The Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board) reversing the referee's award of medical and hospital service expenses.
On June 18, 1971, the claimant incurred serious injury to his right eye while working in the course of his employment with Jones & Laughlin Steel Corporation. Specifically, he suffered a laceration of the cornea of his right eye, and lacerations of the bridge of his nose, causing loss of two thirds of the lens and loss of the iris. Without filing a claim, the claimant signed an agreement for compensation with his employer on August 25, 1971. At that time the claimant's wage was one hundred fifteen dollars per week; so the employer agreed to pay compensation at the rate of sixty dollars per week, beginning June 26, 1971. A supplemental agreement, dated December 17, 1971, provided the claimant with specific loss benefits for the loss of his right eye, at the rate of sixty dollars per week for one hundred fifty weeks. This supplemental agreement indicated that Noel was able to return to work on December 13, 1971, and that the
[ 70 Pa. Commw. Page 569]
agreement did not include compensation for disfigurement. A second supplemental agreement, entered into by the parties on August 19, 1975, provided compensation for disfigurement at the rate of sixty dollars per week for fifty weeks beginning October 28, 1974 and ending October 12, 1975. In October, 1975, the claimant executed a final receipt.
In April, 1973, Joseph Noel started to exhibit psychiatric and psychological problems. On April 24, 1973 the claimant was hospitalized at the Western Psychiatric Institute in Pittsburgh for psychiatric evaluation. After the initial hospitalization in April, 1973, the claimant had in excess of fourteen hospitalizations for psychiatric care in the Pittsburgh area and in the Columbus, Ohio area. Due to the incurrence of medical expenses and the apparent need for more, on March 8, 1976, Noel filed a Petition to Set Aside the Final Receipt. Therein the claimant stated that his disability had not terminated and that he continued to require medical attention as a result of the eye injury sustained on June 18, 1971. The employer answered the Petition by denying the claimant's averments. The employer alleged that Noel's medical treatment was not related to the injury and that all disability had terminated when the final receipt was executed.
On the basis of testimony presented by both parties at hearings held on June 21, 1976, February 15, 1977, July 7, 1978 and June 3, 1980, referee Duane A. Darkins set aside the final receipt and awarded benefits to the employee for a continuing total disability. The referee found that a causal relationship existed between the employee's paranoid schizophrenia and the loss of his eye, that the employee's disability had not ceased at the time the final receipt was signed, and that the employee was totally disabled from the
[ 70 Pa. Commw. Page 570]
compensable injury when the final receipt was signed. Additionally, the referee found that the claimant had been disabled from the date of the accident, excepting a short period in 1974 when he attempted to work as a security guard. In accordance with his findings of fact, the referee concluded that the ...