Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in the case of Elizabeth Thompson, widow of Lamar Thompson, Deceased v. Swatara Coal Company and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, No. A-80323.
Stephen P. Ellwood, with him Lester Krasno, for petitioner.
Timothy G. Lenahan, Lenahan & Dempsey, P.C., for respondent, Swatara Coal Company.
Lisa Roth, Assistant Counsel, for respondent, Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board.
Judges Blatt, Williams, Jr. and Craig, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Blatt.
[ 71 Pa. Commw. Page 547]
Elizabeth Thompson (claimant) seeks reversal of the order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board) which denied her compensation for the death of her husband, Lamar Thompson. She alleges two errors: 1) that the referee and the Board incorrectly found that there was no unequivocal medical testimony that her husband died as a result of his occupational disease and, 2) that she has met her burden of proof in establishing dependence upon the decedent by substantial competent evidence.
The claimant contends that her husband's death was the result of anthracosilicosis caused by his exposure to a silica hazard during his 30-year employment with the Swatara Coal Company. In support of
[ 71 Pa. Commw. Page 548]
this contention, she submitted two letters from Dr. Benjamin B. Platt, who had been treating the decedent since his original myocardial infarction in October of 1974. In his first letter, Dr. Platt opined that "the anthracosilicosis was a contributing factor by placing an additional burden on his already compromised heart. The anthracosilicosis aggravated his cardiac condition." In his second letter, Dr. Platt opined that "anthracosilicosis was a substantial contributing factor in the claimant's [sic] death by placing an additional burden on his already compromised heart."
The claimant, in order to recover benefits under Section 301(c)(2) of The Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act (Act), Act of June 2, 1915, P.L. 736, as amended, 77 P.S. § 411, has the burden of proving that the decedent's death resulted from an occupational disease. And, as we noted in Evon v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, 70 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 325, A.2d (1982),
[T]he statutes do not exclude death as compensable where the occupational disease is the contributory or accelerating cause. The important factor is that there shall be a causal relationship between the disease and the death or disability.
While our review of the record persuades us that the decedent died as a result of his occupational disease, our analysis of this case, of course, must include the consideration of Section 307 of the ...