Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of Margaret Gill, Widow of Gaufor Gill v. Lady Jane Collieries, Inc., No. A-81630.
Paul E. Sutter, Hisch, Weise & Tillman, for petitioners.
Cynthia Soult, Belin, Belin & Naddeo, for respondents.
President Judge Crumlish, Jr., and Judges Barry and Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by President Judge Crumlish, Jr.
[ 81 Pa. Commw. Page 565]
Lady Jane Collieries, Inc., and its insurance carrier, Old Republic Companies, appeal a Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board order which affirmed a referee's grant of benefits. We reverse and remand.
During his lifetime, Gill was awarded benefits for total disability due to pneumoconiosis. Gill's widow filed a claim petition to recover statutory expenses, alleging that her husband died as a result of anthraco-silicosis. His death certificate stated that the cause of death was cardiac arrest due to myocardial infarction due to arteriosclerotic heart disease and severe emphysema. The Board affirmed the referee's finding that Gill's underlying pre-existing pneumoconiosis was "a cause" of his death.
Section 301(c)(2) of The Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act*fn1 sets forth requirements a claimant must satisfy in order to receive death benefits.*fn2 The referee and the Board interpreted this section as allowing benefits where the occupational disease was "a cause" of death. However, in McCloskey v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, 501 Pa. 93, 460 A.2d 237 (1983), our Supreme Court determined that, when an occupational disease results in death, Section 301(c)(2) requires that the occupational disease be a "substantial contributing factor" of death.
[ 81 Pa. Commw. Page 566]
McCloskey was decided while the present case was on appeal before this Court.*fn3 The Supreme Court, in Kuchinic v. McCrory, 422 Pa. 620, 625, 222 A.2d 897, 900 (1966), stated that "a court's interpretation of a statute is considered to have been the law from its enactment date, despite contrary intervening holdings . . . . In such circumstances, the latest interpretation is applicable to a case whose appeal has not yet been decided."
We therefore reverse the Board and remand for a determination of whether Gill's pneumoconiosis was a "substantial ...