Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in the case of Betty L. Holland, widow of James R. Holland, Sr. v. Bucyrus-Erie Company, No. A-78602.
William C. Hurtt, with him Robert F. Prorok, Reed, Smith, Shaw & McClay, for petitioner.
Edwin H. Beachler, McArdle, Caroselli, Spagnolli & Beachler, for respondents, Betty L. Holland w/o James R. Holland, Sr.
Judges Rogers, Craig and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig.
[ 73 Pa. Commw. Page 202]
Bucyrus-Erie Company appeals from a Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board order affirming a referee's award of benefits to the widow of James R. Holland (claimant) under those sections of The Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act governing the occupational disease of silicosis.*fn1 We affirm.
Based on the testimony of three doctors,*fn2 the referee found that the claimant, who had worked for Bucyrus for thirty-four years in the steel foundry, contracted silicosis, a form of pneumoconiosis, as a result of his occupational exposure to silica dust.*fn3 Furthermore, one of the doctors*fn4 testified that the silicosis was
[ 73 Pa. Commw. Page 203]
"one of the causes" of the decedent's death, because it left him vulnerable to the medical complications which ultimately took his life.*fn5
Bucyrus alleges that, as a matter of law, a claimant must show that the occupational disease was, at the very least, the "most significant cause of death," not merely that it was "one cause of death," citing Crucible Steel, Inc. v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, 65 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 415, 442 A.2d 1199 (1982); Elliott v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, 57 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 70, 425 A.2d 885 (1981) ("major contributing factor"); Refosco v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, 57 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 74, 425 A.2d 887 (1981) ("substantial contributing factor"); Vargo v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, 57 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 77, 425 A.2d 888 (1981) ("contributed in a substantial or significant manner").
Recently, however, our court, sitting en banc, in Evon v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, 70 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 325, 453 A.2d 55 (1982), confronted what had been an indefinite standard for determining whether a claimant's death "resulted from" an occupational disease under the Act. There we expressly disapproved the declarations in Elliott, Refosco and Vargo that conditions which contribute to
[ 73 Pa. Commw. Page 204]
death, but are not related to the immediate cause of death, are insufficient to ...