Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of Ernest Roth v. Pittsburgh Board of Education, No. A-80980.
Raymond F. Keisling, with him David M. McCloskey, Will and Keisling, for petitioner.
David H. Dille, Assistant Solicitor, with him Robert J. Stefanko, Solicitor for respondent, Pittsburgh Board of Education.
President Judge Crumlish, Jr., and Judges Barry and Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Barry. Dissenting Opinion by Judge Barbieri.
[ 80 Pa. Commw. Page 641]
This appeal results from an order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board) denying benefits to Ernest Roth Lewis (claimant).
Claimant, at the time of the incident, was a physical education teacher employed by the Pittsburgh Board of Education (School District). Claimant was also a football coach at Seton LaSalle High School, a private school in the Pittsburgh area having no relationship with the School District.
On August 30, 1979, claimant reported for work on a scheduled in-service day. While moving various pieces of equipment in the gymnasium, Claimant felt
[ 80 Pa. Commw. Page 642]
a sharp pain in the back of his neck. Although claimant was experiencing considerable pain, he remained in school on August 30 and also reported for work the next day.
Claimant was eventually admitted to Mercy Hospital on September 9, 1979, in the care of Dr. Narayan Nayak, a neurosurgeon who performed an anterior cervical discectomy and iliac graft fusion. Claimant returned to work on October 29, 1979. At the hearing before the referee, claimant testified that he first experienced problems with his neck when he sustained an injury during football practice at The University of Cincinnati in 1966. Claimant testified that he occasionally had minor problems with his neck, usually requiring the services of a chiropractor. Only after the alleged injury in August 1979 did surgery become necessary.
Dr. Nayak testified that claimant had been suffering from cervical spondylosis with a root compression syndrome at C5-6 and C6-7. When asked whether claimant's injury was a result of the August 30, 1979 accident, Dr. Nayak testified, "this particular episode which you mentioned could have been directly or indirectly could have been the cause of this problem" (pp. 8 and 9 of Dr. Nayak's deposition). Dr. Nayak noted that large pieces of cartilage extruding from the injured area evidenced the fact that trauma had aggravated the problem. However, as Dr. Nayak testified on cross-examination, "since this man is involved in football coaching, I believe he would be exposed to repeated trauma to the neck and could be responsible for aggravation of this problem" (Page 13 of Dr. Nayak's deposition).
The referee granted claimant benefits. The Board, however, reversed, and concluded that the equivocal nature of Dr. ...