Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of Samuel S. Russella v. National Foam Systems, No. A-83913.
Stephen W. Bruccoleri, Gustine J. Pelagatti, Pelagatti & Bruccoleri, P.C., for petitioner.
John P. Knox, with him, David R. Weyl, Timoney, Know, Hasson & Weand, for respondent, National Foam Systems, Inc.
Judges Craig and MacPhail, and Senior Judge Kalish, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge MacPhail. Judge Barry did not participate in the decision in this case. Dissenting Opinion by Senior Judge Kalish.
[ 91 Pa. Commw. Page 473]
Samuel D. Russella (Claimant) appeals here from a decision of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board) which denied compensation to him.
Claimant worked for National Foam Systems, Inc. (Employer) for a little over ten years as a rim man. His duties included cutting and bending pipe, grinding metal, welding metal and drilling metal. His duties did not vary over his years of employment. On January 23, 1977, Claimant complained to his supervisor of headaches, dizziness and mucous which was rust colored and black. He left work that day and did not return.
Claimant had been treated by several doctors for several years prior to 1977 for a variety of symptoms such as shortness of breath, weakness, headaches, nausea, vomiting, lassitude and inability to function. He said he was afflicted with a cardiovascular condition in 1969 which caused him headaches and dizziness on occasion and that he suffered a concussion in an automobile collision in 1975. He was treated for hypertension in 1972 and was also diagnosed as having hypothyroidism.
Claimant, of course, had the burden of proving his right to compensation; i.e., he had to prove that he had suffered an injury arising from his employment and related thereto. Because Claimant originally prevailed before the referee and the Board took no additional evidence, we must determine whether
[ 91 Pa. Commw. Page 474]
the referee's findings were supported by substantial record evidence and whether the referee erred as a matter of law. Bell Telephone Co. v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (DeMay), 87 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 558, 487 A.2d 1053 (1985).
One of Claimant's physicians, Dr. Bass, testified that although he could find no major physical abnormalities, Claimant, nevertheless, was unable to function in his work place because he suffered from severe neurasthenia, an emotional disorder which affects the physical capacity of an individual to function because of a combination of anxiety and depression.
This Court has had several opportunities*fn1 to discuss the nature of psychiatric injuries which are unaccompanied by physical trauma and the requisites for compensability pursuant to Section 301(c) of The Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act (Act).*fn2 The seminal case which articulated the criteria for compensability of such injuries is Thomas v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, (Thomas Atlantic ...