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DANA CORPORATION AND HARTFORD INSURANCE GROUP v. WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD (MICHAEL SAVAGE AND FIREMEN'S FUND INSURANCE COMPANIES) (07/14/83)

decided: July 14, 1983.

DANA CORPORATION AND THE HARTFORD INSURANCE GROUP, PETITIONERS
v.
WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD (MICHAEL SAVAGE AND FIREMEN'S FUND INSURANCE COMPANIES), RESPONDENTS. DANA CORPORATION AND THE HARTFORD INSURANCE GROUP, PETITIONERS V. WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD (JOSEPH A. WISNIEWSKI AND FIREMEN'S FUND INSURANCE COMPANIES), RESPONDENTS



Appeals from the Orders of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in the case of Michael Savage v. Dana Corporation, No. A-80981 and in the case of Joseph A. Wisniewski v. Dana Corporation, Parrish Division, No. A-81050.

COUNSEL

Robert H. Holland, with him Barbara L. Hollenbach, Holland, Taylor and Sorrentino, for petitioners.

Stephen J. Harlen, Swartz, Campbell and Detweiler, for respondent, Firemen's Fund Insurance Companies.

Marc S. Jacobs, Galfand, Berger, Senesky, Lurie & March, for respondents, Michael Savage and Joseph A. Wisniewski.

Judges Blatt, MacPhail and Doyle, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Doyle.

Author: Doyle

[ 75 Pa. Commw. Page 475]

These are the consolidated appeals of the Dana Corporation (Dana) and The Hartford Insurance Group (The Hartford) from orders of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board) which affirmed the award of benefits to two Dana employees. We affirm.

Michael Savage and Joseph A. Wisniewski (Claimants) were both employed by the Dana Corporation for more than thirty years. Savage was employed as a welder and assemblyman and Wisniewski was employed as a welder and utility man. In 1979, both men filed claim petitions seeking compensation for a

[ 75 Pa. Commw. Page 476]

    complete loss of hearing in both ears.*fn1 Both men claimed that the injury was caused by constant exposure to noise during the course of their employment with Dana. Separate hearings were held before Referee Harry C. Shayhorn,*fn2 and The Hartford, insurance carrier for Dana since June 1, 1978, joined Firemen's Fund Insurance Company (Firemen's Fund), carrier for Dana prior to June 1, 1978, in both actions. Both The Hartford and Firemen's Fund raised the statute of limitations as a defense to each claim. Referee Shayhorn ordered The Hartford to pay benefits to both Claimants for the loss of hearing in both ears for all practical intents and purposes. The Hartford appealed both determinations and the Board affirmed. Petition for review in this Court followed and we consolidated these nearly identical cases for argument and disposition.

Claimants seeking workmen's compensation benefits bear the burden of proving a right to those benefits. Bethlehem Steel Corporation v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Lombardi), 70 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 392, 453 A.2d 370 (1982). Where, as here, the parties with the burden of proof prevail before the referee and the Board takes no additional evidence, review by this Court is limited to determining whether constitutional rights were violated, an error of law was committed, or necessary findings of fact were unsupported by substantial evidence. United States Steel Corp. v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, 59 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 434, 430 A.2d 349 (1981).

Dana urges that findings made by Referee Shayhorn in each case are ...


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