decided: October 1, 1987.
FOX GROCERY COMPANY, (WETTERAU, INC.), PETITIONER
WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD (SHETTERLY, JR.), RESPONDENTS
Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, in case of Raymond Shetterly, Jr. v. Fox Grocery, No. A-89883.
Irvin S. Bails, Baskin, Flaherty, Elliott & Mannino, P.C., for petitioner.
Lawrence R. Chaban, Yablonski, Costello & Leckie, for respondent, Raymond Shetterly, Jr.
Judges MacPhail and Colins, and Senior Judge Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Blatt.
[ 110 Pa. Commw. Page 27]
Fox Grocery Company (petitioner) petitions for review of an order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board) which affirmed a referee's granting of benefits to Raymond Shetterly (claimant).
The facts of record are as follows. The claimant began working for the employer in May 1982 as an order assembler in the employer's warehouse. His duties involved
[ 110 Pa. Commw. Page 28]
heavy physical labor, including the lifting of parcels ranging in weight from five to seventy pounds, and the operation of a floor jack. At some time subsequent to October 1982, the employer instituted a new production quota wherein increased production was expected of warehouse employees. The claimant did not maintain the newly required production rates, and was consequently issued two warnings in 1983 with regard to such failure. While at work, on September 15, 1983, he sustained chest pains and profuse sweating. A fellow employee called an ambulance to the work-site, and the claimant was then transported to the Monongahela Valley Hospital and treated for cardiovascular difficulties. On October 18, 1983, he filed a claim for workmen's compensation benefits alleging that he had suffered a disabling heart attack in the course of his employment and continued to be unable to work. Dr. James L. Brooks, a general practitioner, and a witness for the claimant, testified by deposition that the claimant had suffered a heart spasm (vasospasm) due to the stress of his employment. A witness for the employer, Dr. Larry Edward Hurvitz, board certified in internal medicine and cardiovascular disease, testified by deposition that he diagnosed the claimant's condition to be coronary artery disease and hypertension unrelated to the claimant's work duties.
The referee found that the claimant had suffered chest pains, and subsequent disability, due to the stress of his employment. Accordingly, the referee entered an Order granting the claimant benefits at a rate of $259.81 per week, commencing September 15, 1983. The Board affirmed and the employer now appeals.
Our scope of review, of course, is limited to determining whether or not constitutional rights were violated, an error of law was committed, or necessary findings of fact are unsupported by substantial evidence.
[ 110 Pa. Commw. Page 29]
The referee, of course, in the exercise of his broad discretion may accept or reject the testimony of any witness in whole or in part. Matlack, Inc. v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Zwald), 90 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 196, 494 A.2d 510 (1985). We do not believe, therefore, that the referee's acceptance of the testimony of a general practitioner over that of a cardiovascular specialist constitutes an error of law.
Next, the employer contends that the finding of a work-related heart spasm is not supported by substantial evidence because Dr. Brooks' medical testimony was based on hearsay. The employer specifically objects to the admissibility of conversations by Dr. Brooks with other doctors, facts in other doctors' reports, and diagnoses of other doctors which were relied upon by Dr. Brooks.
Preliminarily, we note that facts and diagnosis in medical reports, if hearsay, cannot be the exclusive basis for a grant of benefits, but, where they are corroborated by other competent evidence, they may be considered. Voitek TV Sales & Service, Inc. v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Brunges), 71 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 475, 455 A.2d 265 (1983). Our review of the record here indicates that there is substantial evidence in the nature of Dr. Brooks' testimony based upon his own knowledge, as well as lay testimony, to corroborate the reports at issue here. Accordingly, we will limit our review of the employer's hearsay claim to its contention that an inadmissible hearsay conversation*fn2 was relied upon by Dr. Brooks and considered by the referee.
[ 110 Pa. Commw. Page 31]
Our review of the referee's findings*fn3 indicates that the referee relied upon Dr. Brooks' testimony, as the claimant's treating physician and based upon his personal knowledge. We believe, therefore, that there is substantial evidence to support the referee's findings that the claimant suffered a work-related heart spasm. Accordingly, any error in the admission of Dr. Weiss' hearsay statement, was de minimis, inasmuch as that testimony was not the sole basis of the finding concerned.
[ 110 Pa. Commw. Page 32]
We will, therefore affirm the order of the Board.
And Now, this 1st day of October, 1987, the order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in the above-captioned matter is affirmed.