Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of James Riddick, Sr. v. State Correctional Institute at Graterford, No. A-82133.
Christine J. Barbieri, with her, Carl M. Mazzocone, Kates, Livesey & Mazzocone, for petitioner.
William C. Steppacher, with him, Picard Losier, for respondent, State Correctional Institute at Graterford.
Judges Craig and MacPhail, and Senior Judge Kalish, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig.
[ 92 Pa. Commw. Page 264]
Claimant James Riddick, Sr., formerly a prison guard at the State Correctional Institute at Graterford, has appealed from a decision of the Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board which reversed a referee's decision granting compensation to the claimant for job-related mental disability.
This court must decide if the board erred in
(1) concluding that the claim for mental disability constituted a new claim petition barred by the three-year time limit in section 315 of The Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act,*fn1 and
(2) also declining to treat the claim as a review petition seeking compensation for an increase of disability, as to which the section 315 time limit runs only from the last payment of compensation in the case.*fn2
[ 92 Pa. Commw. Page 265]
The referee found that the claimant was disabled, in that he was "totally incapable of being gainfully employed . . . as a result of his mental condition." The referee also found that the claimant's "mental condition was precipitated by the pressures of his job as a prison guard."
According to the record, the claimant's job as a prison guard involved a series of difficult and traumatic events culminating in a physical altercation with prisoners on February 28, 1976. About one year before that date, a prisoner being guarded by the claimant had been found hanged to death, causing the claimant to believe that the prisoner had been murdered as a consequence of the claimant's attempt to convey to the warden information cooperatively provided by that prisoner. Shortly before the incident on February 28, 1976, the claimant had been required to guard the dead body of a fellow guard who had been stabbed forty times, and the claimant shortly thereafter had been subjected to close contact with a prisoner suspected of killing that other guard, a situation made more difficult by the claimant's attempts to forestall revenge by fellow guards against the prisoner.
The February 28, 1976 date was the claimant's last day of employment. On that day he acted to break up a fight among inmates. He was attacked by seven to ten inmates, including a very large inmate who ...