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GEORGE JEROKOVITCH v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (01/13/83)

COMMONWEALTH COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA


January 13, 1983

GEORGE JEROKOVITCH, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD AND GATEWAY COAL CO., RESPONDENTS

No. 1567 C.D. 1981

Before Honorable Theodore O. Rogers, Judge Honorable Genevieve Blatt, Judge Honorable David W. Craig, Judge

Author: Blatt

[ 71 Pa. Commw. Page 172]

JUDGE BLATT

George Jerokovitch (claimant) appeals from an order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board which affirmed a referee's decision that the claimant failed to meet the burden of proof required to establish that he suffered a compensable injury.

[ 71 Pa. Commw. Page 173]

On April 26, 1975 the claimant, while working in the course and scope of his employment with the Gateway Coal Company (Gateway), received an electrical shock of 440 watts and sustained burns on the fingers of his right hand. He then filed a claim petition on August 24, 1977 seeking benefits and alleging that this incident accelerated the progression of a pre-existing spinal cord disease.*fn1 At a referee's hearing, both sides presented expert medical testimony. The referee chose to believe Gateway's expert who stated in his deposition that, although the claimant is totally disabled from multiple sclerosis, there was no relationship between the April 26, 1975 incident and the worsening of his condition. The Board affirmed and the instant appeal followed.

The claimant argues that the referee displayed a capricious disregard of competent evidence*fn2 in finding that the April 26, 1975 incident did not accelerate his pre-existing spinal cord disease and/or multiple sclerosis. Specifically, the claimant argues in his brief that "lesser weight should have been accorded the testimony of Gateway's expert... than to his [own] treating physician."

We have long held that it is for the referee in Workmen's Compensation cases to determine the credibility and weight of the evidence and that in doing so he or she may accept or reject the medical testimony of any witness in whole or in part. Mickles v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, 59 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 109, 428 A.2d 1035 (1981); see K-Mart

[ 71 Pa. Commw. Page 174]

Corp. v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, 56 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 52, 424 A.2d 956 (1981).

Here, in performing her factfinding function, the referee believed and gave great weight to the testimony of Gateway's medical expert and rejected the testimony of the claimant's medical experts. This does not, we believe, constitute a capricious disregard of competent evidence but rather it was an allowable exercise of the referee's duty to resolve conflicts in the evidence. Mickles; K-Mart.

Finding no error of law or capricious disregard of competent evidence we will, therefore, affirm the order of the Board.

Genevieve Blatt, Judge

Order

AND, NOW, this 13th day of January, 1983, the order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in the above-captioned matter is hereby affirmed.

Genevieve Blatt, Judge


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