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CENTRAL PENNSYLVANIA COMMUNITY ACTION v. WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD (PROBECK) (01/21/87)

decided: January 21, 1987.

CENTRAL PENNSYLVANIA COMMUNITY ACTION, INC., AND STATE WORKMEN'S INSURANCE FUND, PETITIONERS
v.
WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD (PROBECK), RESPONDENTS



Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in the case of Judith Probeck v. Central Pennsylvania Community Action, Inc., No. A-88203.

COUNSEL

Paul J. Dufallo, Assistant Chief Counsel, for petitioners.

Thomas F. Morgan, for respondent.

Judges MacPhail and Palladino, and Senior Judge Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Senior Judge Barbieri.

Author: Barbieri

[ 103 Pa. Commw. Page 279]

Before this Court in this workmen's compensation case is the appeal of Central Pennsylvania Community Action, Inc., Employer, and its insurer, State Workmen's Insurance Fund, seeking review of an order by the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board), which reversed a referee's termination order and dismissed the termination petition filed by the Employer and its insurer. We will affirm.

Claimant, Judith Probeck, was injured in the course of her employment on September 7, 1979, while descending a ladder with a can of paint. She missed her step on the ladder and fell ten steps down, landing "flat on my back." Claimant's regular work has been what may be termed "laborer's work," including driving a tractor-trailer, presser in a clothing plant and, the employment at the time of her injury, the renovation and remodeling of homes, which she described as follows:

A. I poured cement; I laid block; I tore out walls; I laid down tile floor; anything.

Q. Laboring jobs?

A. Right; anything and everything and I loved it because it was different.

[ 103 Pa. Commw. Page 280]

Q. All right. What did you do for Community Action?

A. That was it.

Q. Was that it?

A. Yes.

Claimant has been under medical care since the fall, and apparently walks with assistance of a cane; at one time, with crutches. Although the best we can make of the medical testimony is that there is a dearth of medical evidence to support a "physical injury" as responsible for the disability, rather there is a psychic influence in Claimant's disability, described by one medical expert as "psychosomatic." There is no competent testimony to dissociate from the injury of September 7, 1979, the psychosomatic component or any of the other possible causes for Claimant's disability.

Nevertheless, the referee made the following findings:

14. That if, in fact, this claimant has any disability at the present time, it is related to her personality and emotional problems which existed for many years prior to her employment with this defendant, and which were not caused by, or related to the incident of September 7, 1979.

15. That your Referee finds as a fact that all disability resulting from the injury of September 7, 1979 ceased and terminated on September 1, 1982, the date Dr. Osgood released her to return to work.

16. That your Referee finds as a fact that any pain, discomfort or disability which this claimant experienced after September 1, 1982, was not and is not the result of, or in any way related to the work-related incident and injury of September 7, 1979.

17. That your Referee finds as a fact that any pain, discomfort, or disability experienced by

[ 103 Pa. Commw. Page 281]

    this claimant on and after September 1, 1982, are the result of the claimant's emotional and psychological problems which were not, and are not the result of, or in any way related to the work-related injury of September 7, 1979.

The referee concluded:

Conclusions of Law

Upon the facts appearing in the Petition for Termination, and the evidence submitted, your Referee arrives at the following Conclusions of Law:

The defendant has proved by competent evidence the allegations set forth in its Petition for Termination and your Referee concludes as a matter of law that the defendant is entitled to a termination of benefits as of September 1, 1982, ...


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