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HELMS EXPRESS v. WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD (LEMONDS) (05/21/87)

decided: May 21, 1987.

HELMS EXPRESS, PETITIONER
v.
WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD (LEMONDS), RESPONDENTS



Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, in case of Grover S. Lemonds, Deceased, Jessie S. Lemonds, widow, v. Helms Express, No. A-90035.

COUNSEL

Arthur J. Leonard, with him, Thomas V. Gebler, Jr., Robb, Leonard & Mulvihill, for petitioner.

Neil J. Rovner, Angino & Rovner, P.C., for respondent, Jessie S. Lemonds, widow.

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

Author: Narick

[ 106 Pa. Commw. Page 288]

Helms Express (Petitioner) appeals from an order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board)

[ 106 Pa. Commw. Page 289]

    which reversed a referee's decision granting Petitioner a right of subrogation pursuant to Section 319 of The Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act (Act), Act of June 2, 1915, P.L. 736, as amended, 77 P.S. ยง 671. For the reasons set forth below, we reverse the decision of the Board denying subrogation.

Grover Lemonds (Claimant) was a truck driver for Petitioner. On September 4, 1981, while in the course of his employment, Claimant suffered a fall which caused a severe skull fracture. Claimant was admitted to Geisinger Medical Center for this injury. During the course of his hospital stay, Claimant developed a gastrointestinal hemorrhage and this condition eventually led to Claimant's death on September 22, 1981.

Claimant's widow, Jessie S. Lemonds, filed a Petition for Compensation on July 14, 1982. At the hearing before the referee, Claimant presented the deposition testimony of Dr. George J. Paul, who testified that the trauma of the head injury created stress which led to gastrointestinal hemorrhaging and finally death. Petitioner proffered no evidence to contradict Dr. Paul. The referee concluded that Claimant's death was work-related. This decision was initially appealed by Petitioner but the appeal was withdrawn.

Claimant's widow subsequently entered into a settlement agreement with Geisinger Medical Center regarding a medical malpractice claim she had instituted against the hospital. In settlement of her claim, Claimant's widow received two hundred seventy-five thousand dollars ($275,000); however, the settlement agreement contained no admission of negligence or liability on the part of Geisinger Medical Center.

Based on this settlement agreement, Petitioner filed a petition claiming a right of subrogation. The referee concluded that Claimant's death was a result of complications of the ...


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