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GLOBE SECURITY SYSTEMS CO. v. WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD (GUERRERO) (01/29/87)

decided: January 29, 1987.

GLOBE SECURITY SYSTEMS CO., AND NATIONAL UNION FIRE INSURANCE COMPANY, PETITIONERS
v.
WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD (GUERRERO), RESPONDENTS



Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in the case of Roberta Guerrero, w/o Jorge L. v. Globe Security Systems, Co., No. A-84931.

COUNSEL

Fred C. Trenor, Meyer, Darragh, Buckler, Bebenek & Eck, for petitioners.

Barbara Ernsberger, Behrend, Morrow, Ernsberger & Moran, for respondents.

President Judge Crumlish, Jr., Judge Doyle, and Senior Judge Kalish, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by President Judge Crumlish, Jr.

Author: Crumlish

[ 103 Pa. Commw. Page 385]

Globe Security Systems Company (Globe) appeals a Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board) order upholding a referee's decision granting fatal claim benefits to Roberta Guerrero, widow of Jorge Guerrero, under Section 301(a) of The Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act (Act).*fn1 We affirm.

Guerrero, a security guard at a state liquor store, was attempting to guard two purported thieves when he drew his gun and accidentally shot one of the suspects in the neck.*fn2 Immediately thereafter, Guerrero shot himself in the head and died.

The referee found that shooting the alleged suspect triggered a mental disturbance (an acute psychotic episode) which caused Guerrero to take his own life.

[ 103 Pa. Commw. Page 386]

The board concluded that there was a sufficient factual basis for finding that Guerrero's suicide was not intentionally self-inflicted.*fn3 The Board also accepted the referee's finding that Roberta Guerrero and Jorge Guerrero were engaged in a common-law marriage when he died.*fn4

This Court has previously held that suicide may be compensable under the Act provided that the suicide is a direct result of a work-related mental illness. Allegheny Ludlum Steel Corp. v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Fisher), 91 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 480, 498 A.2d 3 (1985). To be work-related, the mental injury must stem from the decedent's function as an employee, not from outside circumstances. Klein v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Plaza Home Center, Inc.), 91 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 247, 496 A.2d 1346 (1985).

In McCoy v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (McCoy Catering Services, Inc.), 102 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 436, 518 A.2d 883 (1986), we recently adopted a "chain of causation" test to be applied in Section 301 suicide cases. Under this test, compensation will be granted if a suicide is caused by pain, depression or despair ...


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