Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in the case of Laura Lewis, w/o Robert Sr. v. Bristol Pike Bowling Lanes, No. A-81431.
Carl M. Mazzocone, with him, Christina J. Barbieri, Kates, Livesey & Mazzocone, for petitioner.
Martin J. Corr, Corr, Stevens & Fenningham, for respondent, Bristol Pike Bowling.
Judges Rogers, MacPhail and Palladino, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Palladino.
Laura Lewis (Claimant) appeals from a decision of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board) reversing the Referee's decision to award death benefits to the Claimant for the death of her husband, Robert Lewis (Decedent). We reverse.
Decedent was employed by Bristol Pike Bowling Lanes (Employer) as a maintenance man. The Decedent's duties included the daily cleaning and buffing of all 36 bowling lanes, the unloading of cartons, the maintenance of the automatic pin setting machines and the drilling of bowling balls. On the morning of October 25, 1976, after having completed the cleaning and buffing of the lanes, the Decedent took a break and went to a room where his activities were not observed. Later, the Decedent complained of chest pain and he left work to visit his family physician, Dr. Anthony Rock, who was treating the Decedent for high blood pressure. Subsequently, the Decedent returned to work. Following the Decedent's lunch break, his activities were again unobserved until 4:00 p.m. when he exited a room behind the lanes and collapsed as he walked across the lanes. The Decedent was pronounced dead on arrival at a hospital. The Decedent's death certificate states the cause of death as circulatory
failure due to myocardial infarction due to hypertensive vascular disease.
At the hearing before the Referee, Claimant presented the testimony of Dr. Rock, which established a causal connection between the Decedent's death and his work activity. Based on the evidence presented, the Referee concluded that because there existed a causal connection between the Decedent's injury and death and his employment, Claimant is entitled to compensation under the provisions of The Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act (Act).*fn1 On appeal, the Board reversed the Referee's decision finding that Dr. Rock's testimony was equivocal, internally confusing and inconsistent.
The sole issue in this case is whether the medical testimony presented by the Claimant was unequivocal in establishing a causal connection between the Decedent's work activity and his subsequent death. Unequivocal medical evidence is required to establish a causal connection between the injury and the alleged cause of that injury where there is no clear connection. George v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, 49 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 435, 411 A.2d 294 (1980). It is the Claimant's burden to prove that she is entitled to benefits. Penn Pad Co. v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, 83 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 490, 478 A.2d 497 (1984). Where the party with the burden of proof has prevailed before the referee, and the Board takes no additional evidence, this Court's scope of review is limited to a determination as to whether any constitutional rights were violated or an error of law was committed or whether there was substantial evidence to support the findings of fact. Id.
Medical testimony is unequivocal when it establishes that, in the professional ...