Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of Somerton Fisher, deceased, Betty Jane Fisher, Widow v. Allegheny Ludlum Steel Co., No. A-84833.
Raymond F. Keisling, Will & Keisling, for petitioner.
Richard A. Weisbord, Weisbord & Weisbord, P.C., for respondent, Betty Jane Fisher.
Judges Craig and MacPhail, and Senior Judge Kalish, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge MacPhail. Senior Judge Kalish concurs in the result only. Judge Barry did not participate in the decision in this case.
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Allegheny Ludlum Steel Corporation (Employer) brings this appeal from a decision of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board) which affirmed the referee's award of benefits to Betty Jane Fisher (Claimant) as a result of the death of her husband, Somerton Fisher (Decedent).*fn1
Decedent died on July 22, 1975, as a result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. It appears that Decedent had worked for Employer for more than eighteen (18) years. At the time of his death, he was the shipping control clerk with the responsibility of
[ 91 Pa. Commw. Page 482]
preparing documents to accompany materials ready for shipment to customers.
This Court has previously determined that suicide may be compensable pursuant to Section 301(c) of The Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act (Act),*fn2 provided the suicide is a direct result of a work-related mental illness. University of Pittsburgh v. Perlman, 49 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 347, 405 A.2d 1048 (1980) (Perlman). Work-related mental illness is an injury as defined by Section 301(c) of the Act. Id.
Psychiatric injuries pose a difficult problem for compensation authorities and the Courts.*fn3 "[T]he occurrence of the [psychiatric] injury and its cause must be adequately pinpointed." Thomas v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, 55 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 449, 455, 423 A.2d 784, 787 (1980) (Thomas Atlantic Refining Co.). Furthermore, "stress-related psychiatric disorders are compensable only when they are based on something other than normal working conditions." Evans v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Anchor Hocking Corp.), 87 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 436, 441, 487 A.2d 477, 480 (1985). There must be objective evidence that the injured employee's working conditions were other than normal; "actual, and not merely perceived or imagined, employment events" must have been the precipitating
[ 91 Pa. Commw. Page 483]
factors. Hirschberg v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Department of Transportation), 81 Pa. Commonwealth ...