Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in the case of Martin Preston v. Department of Transportation, No. A-86727.
Paul D. Shafer, Jr., Shafer, Dornhaffer, Swick, Bailey & Irwin, for petitioner.
Gary D. Ludin, with him, Paul J. Duffalo, Assistant Chief Counsel, for respondent.
Judge Craig, and Senior Judges Blatt and Kalish, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig.
[ 96 Pa. Commw. Page 384]
Martin Dale Preston appeals from an order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board which affirmed a referee's decision dismissing Preston's petition for reinstatement. We reverse and remand.
Preston was employed by the Department of Transportation as a maintenance manager. On January 2, 1981, Preston filed a claim petition alleging an aggravation of his hypertension condition, and that the aggravation was related to the stress of his employment. After a
[ 96 Pa. Commw. Page 385]
hearing, a referee found that Preston's hypertension was aggravated by the stress of his employment, and awarded total disability benefits from January 3, 1981 to March 5, 1981. Neither party appealed from the referee's decision.
After the benefits period under that award had expired, claimant Preston filed a petition for reinstatement of total disability benefits for the period of August 28, 1981 through December 31, 1981, alleging a recurrence of the aggravation of his hypertension. After a hearing, a referee found that Preston's disability was not related to his employment. The board affirmed and this appeal followed.
Preston contends that the decision is in error because the referee is precluded by collateral estoppel from rejecting the causative factor that he found in the earlier case.
This court, in Tanski v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, 95 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 556, 505 A.2d 1370 (1986), acknowledged that where a referee had found that an injury was work-related, he was precluded from later finding that the original injury was not work-related. The issue in Tanski, as in this case, was whether there had been a recurrence of the original injury.*fn1 In Tanski, according to the referee's findings, the original injury was an episode of mental stress, which was disabling; the findings in that case did not
[ 96 Pa. Commw. Page 386]
identify any antecedent condition or predisposition out of which the disabling injury arose. In the present case, by contrast, the referee's Finding of Fact No. 1 ...