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FIRST NATIONAL BANK DUNMORE AND ITS INSURANCE CARRIER v. WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD (TROTTA) (10/21/87)

decided: October 21, 1987.

FIRST NATIONAL BANK OF DUNMORE AND ITS INSURANCE CARRIER, SELECTED RISKS INSURANCE COMPANY, PETITIONERS
v.
WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD (TROTTA), RESPONDENTS



Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in the case of Roland A. Trotta, Deceased, Dorothy V. Trotta, Widow v. First National Bank of Dunmore, No. A-90628.

COUNSEL

J. Scott Brady, O'Malley, Harris & Schneider, P.C., for petitioners.

Gregory D. Geiss, with him, Cal A. Leventhal, for respondent.

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

Author: Macphail

[ 110 Pa. Commw. Page 372]

Petitioners First National Bank of Dunmore (Employer) and Selected Risks Insurance Company, Employer's insurance carrier, appeal an order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board) which affirmed a referee's decision to grant the fatal claim petition of Dorothy V. Trotta (Claimant) filed upon the death of her husband, Roland A. Trotta. We affirm.

According to the referee's findings of fact, prior to Mr. Trotta's death on October 14, 1982, he had been employed by Employer approximately twenty-one years, working his way up from bookkeeper to vice president. In October, 1981, Mr. Trotta was transferred to a new branch established by Employer in the City of Scranton to be the branch manager. Mr. Trotta had refused previously to accept such a transfer when the branch opened in September, 1980.

In his new position, Mr. Trotta was expected to generate business for the branch and, as found by the referee, he became more active socially, joining new business and civic organizations. On the night before Mr. Trotta's death, he attended a United Way awards dinner along with other bank employees, and then went with the group for a drink at an establishment owned by a bank customer. Mr. Trotta returned home about 1:00

[ 110 Pa. Commw. Page 373]

    a.m., slept approximately four and a half hours, and then arose at 6:00 a.m. in order to be in Hershey, Pennsylvania for a 10:00 a.m. meeting of the American Institute of Banking. Later that day, while at the meeting, which the referee found to be required by his position with Employer, Mr. Trotta suffered a fatal heart attack.

On May 16, 1983, Claimant filed a fatal claim petition alleging that her husband's death resulted from an aggravation of a pre-existing heart problem caused by the stress and strain of his employment.*fn1 The referee awarded death benefits to Claimant, concluding that Mr. Trotta's death resulted from a heart attack which was causally related to his employment. The Board affirmed the referee's decision.

Employer's initial argument on appeal is that the referee erred as a matter of law in overruling an objection to a hypothetical question, which Employer asserts was based upon hearsay, asked by Claimant of her medical witness.

It is well settled that, as a general rule, hypothetical questions must be based on matters which appear in the record and on facts warranted by the evidence. Borough of Morrisville v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, 54 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 41, 419 A.2d 813 (1980). Employer's argument here is that the hypothetical question asked of Claimant's medical witness, Dr. Preli, contained a series of "hearsay statements" taken from Claimant's own ...


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