Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Washington County in the case of Richard J. Porter (Deceased), Priscilla Porter (Widow) v. Combustion Engineering, Inc., and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, No. 221 October Term, 1979, A.D.
Thomas D. Gould, Assistant Chief Counsel, for appellant.
No appearance for appellee.
Judges MacPhail, Doyle and Barry, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Barry.
[ 95 Pa. Commw. Page 151]
This appeal follows an award of benefits for funeral expenses by a referee, affirmed by the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (board) and the Washington County Court of Common Pleas (trial court) to Priscilla Porter (claimant).
The claimant's deceased, Richard J. Porter, died on October 9, 1978, of a myocardial infarction brought on by arteriosclerotic heart disease. In addition, chronic bronchitis and emphysema were listed on the deceased's death certificate as "other significant conditions contributing to death but not related" to the infarction. Following the deceased's demise, the claimant filed a fatal claim petition under the Pennsylvania Occupational Disease Act seeking funeral benefits only.*fn1 The petition was granted by the referee, and that decision was upheld by the board and the trial court. The appellant Commonwealth of Pennsylvania*fn2 has maintained throughout that the referee was in error in finding that the deceased's admitted silicosis contributed to his death, thus making the funeral expenses reimbursable.
We are mindful that our review in the present controversy is limited to a determination of whether necessary findings of fact were supported by substantial
[ 95 Pa. Commw. Page 152]
evidence. Thiele, Inc. v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, 83 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 286, 477 A.2d 51 (1984). The specific standard applicable in fatal claim petitions under the Occupational Disease Act was enunciated by the Supreme Court in McCloskey v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, 501 Pa. 93, 460 A.2d 237 (1983):
[W]here there are multiple causes of death and the immediate cause was non-compensable, the requirements of § 301(c)(2) may be met by a showing with unequivocal medical evidence that the deceased suffered from an occupational disease and that it was a substantial, contributing factor among the secondary causes in bringing about death.
501 Pa. at 101, 460 A.2d at 241.*fn3 See also Kusenko v. Republic Steel Corp., 506 Pa. 104, 107, ...