Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of Alice Lamoreaux w/o Harold v. Celotex Corporation, No. A-82619.
Sandor Yelen, for petitioner.
David W. Saba, Hourigan, Kluger, Spohrer & Quinn, for respondents, Celotex Corporation and Standard Fire Insurance Company.
Judges Rogers, Craig and Doyle, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Doyle. Judge Williams, Jr., did not participate in the decision in this case.
Alice Lamoreaux (Appellant), the widow of Harold Lamoreaux (Decedent), appeals from an order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board) which denied her claim for death benefits filed on behalf of her husband under Section 301(c)(1) of the Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act (Act), Act of June 2, 1915, P.L. 736, as amended, 77 P.S. § 411(1).
Decedent was employed by Celotex Corporation (Employer) as an oven operator for approximately seven years. The temperature in which he worked averaged between 90 and 110 degrees, and his job required that about every four minutes he move a car loaded with baked tile and weighing about 1500 pounds
(unloaded) along a track to a fellow employee. On the morning of April 9, 1979, Decedent collapsed and died shortly after beginning work. Relying primarily on the deposition testimony of Employer's medical witness, Dr. Goldstein, the referee found that Decedent had died from an acute myocardial infarction (or heart attack) which was not related to his employment and made a crucial finding that Decedent had pre-existing coronary heart disease. Appellant's medical witness, Dr. Klem, presented conflicting testimony to the effect that, in his opinion, Decedent's heart attack was directly related to the severity of his working conditions. Neither Dr. Klem nor Dr. Goldstein examined Decedent prior to his death, nor was an autopsy performed.
In order for a heart attack to be considered a compensable injury under the Act, a claimant must show a causal connection between his work and the attack. Haney v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, 65 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 461, 442 A.2d 1223 (1982). When this causal connection is not obvious it must be established by unequivocal medical testimony. Id. And where, as here, a claimant has failed to sustain his burden of proof before the referee and the Board, our scope of review is limited to ascertaining whether constitutional rights were violated, an error of law was committed, or competent evidence was capriciously disregarded. Killian v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, 62 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 29, 434 A.2d 906 (1981).
Appellant argues that the testimony of Employer's medical witness was incompetent because it was based upon inaccurate facts not of record. Specifically, she contends that there is no evidence to support Dr. Goldstein's theory that Decedent was suffering from pre-existing coronary artery disease, and, therefore, the
doctor's testimony that Decedent's heart attack was the result of the natural progression of such a disease, and only coincidentally occurred on the Employer's premises, could not have been based ...