Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in the case of Donald E. Kitchen v. Mesta Machine Company, No. A-80407.
Ronald J. McKay, for petitioner.
Stuart W. Benson, III, for respondents.
Judges Rogers, Craig and Doyle, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig.
[ 73 Pa. Commw. Page 290]
Donald Kitchen appeals from a Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board order affirming a referee's dismissal of Mr. Kitchen's claim petition under section 301(c) of The Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act.*fn1 We affirm.
On May 26, 1978, Mr. Kitchen, a craneman for Mesta Machine Company, filed a claim petition alleging disability because of pulmonary fibrosis contracted from exposure to silica in the company's foundry. The referee dismissed that 1978 claim petition on the basis of medical testimony that Mr. Kitchen was not suffering from silicosis, and that any impairment of pulmonary function was the result of cigarette smoking; the board affirmed that decision on March 22, 1979.*fn2
Mr. Kitchen filed a second petition on April 5, 1979, contending that he is disabled because of an anxiety neurosis which causes him to believe that he suffers from silicosis.
Specifically, the record reveals that Mr. Kitchen began to undergo a profound personality change sometime
[ 73 Pa. Commw. Page 291]
after April 12, 1978, when a sandhose near his crane broke, creating a dust storm of silica in the foundry. Sickened by inhalation of the dust, Mr. Kitchen reported to the plant physician who advised him to take eight days off; the claimant tried to return to work on April 18, 1978 but testified that he was unable to do so. On April 18, or shortly thereafter, he received the results of x-rays taken earlier at McKeesport Hospital, causing him to believe that he suffered from silicosis. Then, according to his testimony, "the whole bottom fell out."
According to the deposition testimony of Mr. Kitchen's treating psychiatrist, Dr. David L. Ravella, Jr., the claimant suffers from severe anxiety neurosis with periodic episodes of gross paranoia. As to the cause of Mr. Kitchen's illness, Dr. Ravella testified that exposure to silica dust for over twelve years in the foundry, the claimant's illness in April of 1978, and being led to believe that he had silicosis "at the very least . . . severely aggravated his [Mr. Kitchen's] condition and most probably was responsible for it."*fn3 Dr. ...