Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of Susan M. Wilson v. Singing Needles/Wm. Carter Co., No. A-87009.
Christopher S. Underhill, Hartman, Underhill & Brubaker, for petitioner.
Harry W. Reed, Jr., Davis, Katz, Buzgon, Davis & Reed, Ltd., for respondent, Singing Needles/William Carter Co.
Judges Rogers, MacPhail and Palladino, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Palladino. Judge Barry did not participate in the decision in this case.
This is an appeal by Susan M. Wilson (Claimant) from an order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board) which affirmed a referee's decision denying her benefits under The Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act (Act).*fn1 We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand.
Claimant was employed in the inspection department of Singing Needles/William Carter Company (Employer) for four years until November 5, 1981. On October 29, 1981, while at work, Claimant became short of breath, felt hot and dizzy and fainted. Simultaneously, Claimant developed "little red bumps" all over her body that went away within a few hours and never returned. Upon her doctor's advice, Claimant stayed home from work for several days. When she returned to work on November 5, 1981, Claimant again had difficulty breathing and became dizzy. Claimant went home and under advice from her doctor, has not returned to her job with Employer. She has, however, performed other types of jobs at a lesser rate of pay.
Claimant filed a claim petition pursuant to the Act. A hearing was held at which Claimant testified and the deposition testimony of Claimant's treating physician, a board certified internist and allergist, and the deposition testimony of Employer's expert medical witness, a board certified dermatologist, were entered into evidence.
Both Claimant and Claimant's physician testified that Claimant had a long history of skin allergies, which caused a form of eczema to erupt on her skin when she is exposed to cats, cigarette smoke and dust, among other things, but she had never before experienced respiratory allergies. Claimant's physician testified unequivocally that Claimant's employment had caused her to develop a respiratory allergy to formaldehyde, a chemical used in the fabrics at Employer's plant. Claimant's physician also testified that he had tested Claimant for skin sensitivity to formaldehyde and the test result showed no skin sensitivity, but that the negative result on the skin test was not inconsistent with his determination that
Claimant suffered a respiratory allergy to formaldehyde. Claimant's physician further testified that Claimant could not safely return to her job.
Employer's expert testified that he had performed a contact urticaria test (commonly referred to as a "patch test") upon Claimant which involved applying formaldehyde to her skin for one-half hour and that this test showed that Claimant did not have a skin sensitivity to formaldehyde. Employer's expert further testified that he did not question Claimant regarding her breathing difficulties because it did not ...