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THOMAS S. HAMMERLE v. WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD (DEPARTMENT AGRICULTURE (04/04/85)

decided: April 4, 1985.

THOMAS S. HAMMERLE, PETITIONER
v.
WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD (DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, BUREAU OF DOG LAW ENFORCEMENT), RESPONDENTS



Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of Thomas S. Hammerle v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Argiculture, No. A-81635.

COUNSEL

Timothy P. Creany, Long, Pawlowski, Creany & Tulowitzki, for petitioner.

Walter Werner, Assistant Chief Counsel, for respondents.

Judges Craig, Barry and Colins, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig.

Author: Craig

[ 88 Pa. Commw. Page 487]

Thomas Hammerle appeals an order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board which affirmed the referee's denial of benefits. We must determine*fn1 whether the board correctly concluded that Hammerle's emotional disability was not caused by work-related stress, and therefore was not a compensable injury within the meaning of section 301(c) of The Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act,*fn2 77 P.S. ยง 411.

[ 88 Pa. Commw. Page 488]

The claimant worked as an enforcement officer for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement. Within his assigned territory of Cambria County, the claimant was responsible for inspecting kennels, responding to complaints about loose and stray dogs, patroling the county for wayward and rabid dogs, investigating larceny and killing of dogs, preparing necessary reports, and otherwise enforcing dog law in Cambria County.

The claimant's supervisor, Mr. Harteis, testified that enforcement officers worked out of their homes, and were permitted to make their own schedules. Mr. Harteis allowed the officers to perform their assigned duties at their convenience, giving priority to the occasional emergency. Mr. Harteis further testified that the claimant's work was "very good," and that he had never had to reprimand him for slow or unsatisfactory job performance.

The claimant testified that he could not complete his duties within the normal working hours, and that he felt that he was spreading himself "far too thin."

On his last day of work, July 21, 1979, the claimant attended two magistrate hearings and returned home where he began to tremble and shake, experienced distress in the chest area, and developed a headache and vomiting. He consulted several physicians who could find no organic cause for his symptoms. Based on the claimant's complaints about work, the doctors therefore, attributed his symptoms and increasing psychiatric problems to stress associated with his work. The claimant filed a petition for benefits claiming that his illness was caused by work-related stress.

This court has recognized that mental and nervous disabilities resulting from ...


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