Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in the case of Thomas C. Cardyn v. Heppenstall, No. A-78359.
Thomas P. Geer, for petitioner.
Leonard P. Kane, Jr., with him, Roy F. Walters, Jr., and Michael Relich, Fried, Kane, Walters & Zuschlag, for respondents.
Judges MacPhail and Barry, and Senior Judge Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Barry.
[ 95 Pa. Commw. Page 383]
Thomas Cardyn, the claimant, appeals from an order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board reversing an order of the referee and denying benefits.
The claimant had been employed by the Heppenstall Company since 1965. On March 15, 1974, he was attempting to loosen a bolt when the wrench he was using slipped, causing him to fall and strike his right knee on the floor. The claimant, who has a long history of medical problems with both of his knees, was taken to West Penn Hospital for x-rays. The claimant returned to work on March 19; in spite of experiencing a great deal of pain in the right knee, he worked a full shift. He also reported for work on March 20 but the pain prevented him from finishing his shift.
The claimant had a total plastic knee replacement performed by Dr. Herbert R. Tauberg on July 26, 1974. Following the surgery, the knee became infected. Because of numerous problems, the plastic knee was replaced in April of 1977. When the difficulties persisted the second plastic knee was removed and the knee joint was fused in January of 1978. The claimant
[ 95 Pa. Commw. Page 384]
has been unable to return to work since March 20, 1974.
The claimant filed a claim petition in June of 1975. Hearings were conducted between 1976 and 1979; the claimant and Dr. Tauberg testified for the claimant and Dr. Robert Botkin testified for the employer. The referee awarded benefits. The Board reversed, holding that the claimant had not presented unequivocal medical testimony to show causation between the disability and the work injury.
The claimant took an appeal to this Court. Following argument in March of 1984, we discovered that the transcript of the claimant's testimony had not been made a part of the record in this case. In an unpublished memorandum opinion of April 3, 1985, we remanded to the Board for inclusion of the missing transcript and reconsideration within sixty days of its order reversing the referee. Upon reconsideration of the complete record, the Board reaffirmed its original order. Because we had retained jurisdiction in our April 3 order, the matter was returned to us for disposition.
The claimant argues that the Board erred in requiring unequivocal medical testimony since claimant's own testimony established that the connection between the knee surgery and the fall at work was obvious, thereby obviating the need for expert testimony. The claimant testified that Dr. Tauberg had recommended the surgery as early as 1972, but that he had refused the operation because, although in pain, he was able to cope and perform his job. He further testified that the ...