Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, in case of Leo Bellicini v. Mathies Coal Company, No. A-88873.
David N. Rutt, Ceisler/Richman Law Firm, for petitioner.
Ada Guyton, for respondent, Leo Bellicini.
Judges MacPhail, Colins and Palladino, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Colins.
[ 102 Pa. Commw. Page 333]
This is an appeal by Mathies Coal Company (petitioner) from an order of the Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board) affirming a referee's determination that Leo Bellicini (claimant) was disabled due to coal worker's pneumoconiosis and, thus, entitled to disability benefits.
[ 102 Pa. Commw. Page 334]
Claimant worked in the coal mines from 1938 until his retirement in 1982, spending his last thirty-one (31) years in the employ of petitioner. Claimant retired from his job as a bratticeman in the mines on January 4, 1982, claiming that he was unable to work due to shortness of breath and general fatigue.
Claimant filed a claim petition pursuant to Section 108 of The Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act (Act), Act of June 2, 1915, P.L. 736, as amended, 77 P.S. § 1208, and Section 301(c)(2) of the Pennsylvania Occupational Disease Act, Act of June 21, 1939, P.L. 566, as amended, 77 P.S. § 411, alleging disability as of July 5, 1983, from anthracosilicosis and/or coal worker's pneumoconiosis. A hearing was held before a referee; at which time, testimony was presented and exhibits taken into evidence. At the hearing, the focus of the testimony was upon whether or not claimant was suffering from one of the alleged disabilities.
On the issue of whether or not the claimant was disabled, the referee chose to find credible the testimony of Richard R. Kletke, M.D., claimant's treating physician. The referee adopted as a finding of fact Dr. Kletke's statement that after conducting pulmonary function studies, he determined that claimant suffered scattered rales, moderate restrictive defect, and mild obstructive defect. The referee additionally adopted as a finding of fact Dr. Kletke's diagnosis that claimant suffered coal worker's pneumoconiosis and arteriosclerotic heart disease, the latter being asymptomatic. Dr. Kletke based his positive finding of pneumoconiosis on Dr. George A. Kunkel's interpretation of a June 13, 1983, x-ray of the claimant which showed pneumoconiosis having a value of 2/1.*fn1 Furthermore, on the central issue of
[ 102 Pa. Commw. Page 335]
disability, the referee adopted as a finding of fact Dr. Kletke's conclusion that claimant was totally and permanently disabled due to coal worker's pneumoconiosis.
On the basis of these pertinent findings, and in consideration of the fact that all the statutory requirements necessary for the recovery of benefits under the Act had been met, the referee awarded benefits. Thereafter, the Board ...