Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in the case of Roy McGill v. Yellow Freight Systems, No. A-78551.
William C. McCarty, Hartman, Underhill & Brubaker, for petitioner.
Philip M. Cullen, with him James P. Cullen, for respondent, Roy McGill.
Judges Rogers, MacPhail and Doyle, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Doyle.
[ 72 Pa. Commw. Page 501]
This is an appeal by Yellow Freight System, Inc. (Yellow Freight) from an order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board) affirming the decision of a referee to set aside a final receipt and grant an award of compensation benefits to Roy McGill (Claimant).
On March 4, 1977, Claimant suffered an acute lumbosacral disc extrusion while working for Yellow Freight as a casual employee. As a result thereof, Claimant received compensation benefits from that date until May 16, 1977, when a final receipt was executed.
[ 72 Pa. Commw. Page 502]
Claimant did not work for Yellow Freight in any capacity at any time following the March 4, 1977 incident. On November 15, 1977, while Claimant was raking leaves in his yard, he suffered severe back pain. Claimant received therapy and was not able to return to his current employment until December 2, 1977. On February 4, 1978, Claimant again suffered a sharp pain in his back while walking up the stairs in his home. Claimant received therapy and returned to work on February 14, 1978. The following day, Claimant filed a petition to review the Yellow Freight compensation agreement claiming that the back problems of November 15, 1977 and February 4, 1978 were recurrences of his March 4, 1977 injury. Following a hearing on April 4, 1978, the referee concluded that Claimant had failed to prove that all disability had not terminated at the time the final receipt was executed and therefore denied compensation benefits. On appeal to the Board, this decision was remanded for clarification. Although a subsequent hearing was not held, the referee did accept additional correspondence and statements from counsel and from Claimant's treating physician, James P. Argires, M.D. Based upon this new evidence, the Board's remand order, and the record of the prior decision, the referee became convinced that all disability had not terminated when Claimant executed the final receipt. The referee concluded that Claimant had suffered recurrences of his original injury on November 5, 1977 and February 4, 1978, and therefore awarded compensation benefits for the periods of disability and medical costs. The Board affirmed this decision and the appeal to this Court followed.
Before this Court, Yellow Freight raises two arguments. First, it contends that the referee's finding of fact that Claimant's disability had not terminated as of the signing of the final receipt is not supported by
[ 72 Pa. Commw. Page 503]
substantial evidence. Second, Yellow Freight argues that the referee's finding of fact that Claimant had suffered two compensable recurrences of the original work related injury is not supported by unequivocal medical evidence.
In a workmen's compensation case where the party with the burden of proof prevailed below, this Court's review is limited to determining whether constitutional rights were violated, an error of law was committed or findings of fact are unsupported by substantial evidence. Colt Industries v. Workmen's ...