Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in the case of Clarence J. Crist v. Burns International Security Services, No. A-81479.
Scott E. Becker, Thomson, Rhodes & Grisby, for petitioner.
Amiel B. Caramanna, Jr., with him Alexander J. Pentecost, for respondents.
Judges Craig, MacPhail and Doyle, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge MacPhail.
[ 79 Pa. Commw. Page 341]
Burns International Security Services, Inc. (Employer) appeals from the decision of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board) dated August 4, 1982, that affirmed and amended the order of the referee, ordering payment of 760 weeks of specific loss benefits to the widow of Clarence J. Crist (Claimant) and payment of a 20 percent fee to Claimant's attorney for the entire 760 weeks of payment for the specific losses.*fn1
Where the party having the burden of proof has prevailed below, our standard of review is limited to determining whether the referee's findings of fact are supported by substantial evidence, and whether there has been an error of law or a violation of constitutional rights.*fn2 Crucible Steel v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, 65 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 415, 442 A.2d 1199 (1982).
It was for the referee to determine the weight to be accorded to the testimony of medical experts; the referee was the factfinder and we will not disturb his findings merely because the testimony of the witnesses was contradictory. Roberts v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, 58 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 123, 427 A.2d 328 (1981). The record shows that Dr. Sanford F. Tolchin testified that in his medical
[ 79 Pa. Commw. Page 342]
opinion, all of Claimant's subsequent health problems were a result of the November 18, 1973, accident; therefore, we find that there was substantial evidence to support the referee's findings of fact.
The record shows that an original Notice of Compensation Payable was filed after Claimant stepped on a steel splinter on November 18, 1973, and compensation was paid.*fn3 Claimant's left leg was subsequently amputated below the knee as a result of the injury. In 1977, Claimant's right leg was amputated above the knee and he filed a Petition to Review alleging an entitlement to additional benefits. By order of June 25, 1980, the referee awarded compensation for total disability on the basis of Claimant's diabetes, which the referee found to be a separate injury, to be followed by payment for specific loss of both legs when the total disability ceased.*fn4
Unfortunately, Claimant died shortly after this decision was rendered. Employer appealed the decision to the Board which remanded to the referee, because of Claimant's death, for consideration of Sections 306(c)*fn5 and 306(g)*fn6 in order to "complete what this board feels is a valid inquiry in this case where claimant has now died."
At the hearing following remand, neither Employer nor Claimant proffered any additional evidence. In his second decision the referee restated his original ...