Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of Maria Altholz w/o Moses v. Penn Pad Company, No. A-82059.
Susan B. Mustoloff, with her, Joseph S. Bekelja, Margolis, Edelstein, Scherlis, Sarowitz & Kraemer, for petitioner.
Richard M. Meltzer, Malis, Tolson & Malis, for respondents.
Judges Rogers, Palladino and Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Palladino.
[ 83 Pa. Commw. Page 491]
Penn Pad Company (Employer) appeals here from an order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board) which affirmed the referee's granting of death benefits to Maria Altholz (Claimant), the widow of Moses Altholz (Decedent). We affirm.
The Decedent was employed by the Employer as a machine operator. After completing a full day of work on October 18, 1976, the Decedent was changing his clothes in the Employer's locker room when he became dizzy and started to fall backwards.*fn1 As he was falling, the Decedent grabbed for the metal lockers in front of him. Upon falling to the floor, the Decedent pulled the entire row of metal lockers, which were not attached to the wall, down on top of him. A fellow employee, who witnessed the incident, helped lift the lockers off of the Decedent. Because there was no dispensary or treating room on the Employer's premises, the Decedent was taken home by his supervisor.
[ 83 Pa. Commw. Page 492]
When the Decedent arrived home, he was pale, his lips were gray, he was bleeding from a cut on one ear and he had bruises on his hands and around his head. Approximately twenty minutes after arriving home, the Decedent's family called for an ambulance to take him to the hospital. By the time the ambulance arrived, the Decedent had died.
At hearings before the referee, Claimant's medical witness, Dr. Carver, testified that taking into consideration the Decedent's pre-existing coronary artery disease,*fn2 he was of the opinion, with reasonable medical certainty, that the incident involving the lockers contributed significantly to and accelerated an abnormality in the Decedent's heart rhythm which resulted in his death. Dr. Carver, when questioned by Claimant's counsel, testified as follows:
Q. Doctor, in your previous testimony you used some words concerning you assumed (sic) that he had a heart attack. Do you have an opinion as of today as to whether or not Mr. Altholz had a heart attack?
A. I am reasonably sure with at least a confidence level of 95 percent he had a heart attack.
Q. Is it your testimony that if he did not have a heart attack, given his pre-existing disease, the incident of the lockers falling on top of him or coming into contact with ...