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THOMAS M. RAKOCY v. WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD (M. GORDON & SONS (03/28/88)

COMMONWEALTH COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA


decided: March 28, 1988.

THOMAS M. RAKOCY, PETITIONER
v.
WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD (M. GORDON & SONS, INC.), RESPONDENTS

Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, in the case of Thomas M. Rakocy v. M. Gordon & Sons, Inc., No. A-91764.

COUNSEL

David B. Dowling, Rhoads & Sinon, for appellant.

Paul L. Zeigler, Goldberg, Katzman & Shipman, P.C., for appellee.

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

Author: Crumlish

[ 114 Pa. Commw. Page 626]

A Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board) order upheld a referee's decision to deny Thomas M. Rakocy specific loss benefits (right eye).*fn1 We affirm.*fn2

Rakocy, a laborer for M. Gordon & Sons, Inc., was injured when debris from a sandblasting hose entered his right eye. Thereafter, he developed ocular herpes resulting in scarring of the eye.

Rakocy contends on appeal that his blurred vision -- the result of sunlight diffusing through the scars in his eye -- is undetectable in an examination under normal doctor's office conditions. Thus, he asserts that

[ 114 Pa. Commw. Page 627]

    the referee erred in crediting the testimony of the employer's doctor, who failed to conduct tests simulating the effects of sunlight.

In order for a claimant to recover for the specific loss of an eye, he or she must demonstrate that the injured eye was lost for all practical intents and purposes. In short, compensation may not be awarded if a claimant's vision is better when using both eyes than when using the uninjured eye alone. Tesco Tank Center, Inc. v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Zmarzley), 107 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 469, 528 A.2d 1036 (1987).

Ophthalmologists testified for Rakocy and his employer. Rakocy's treating physician testified that sunlight created glare that could be remedied by wearing a patch over the injured eye. Upon cross-examination, however, she reaffirmed her previous opinion that "viewing with both eyes still allows for better judgment of spatial relationships and depth perception that monocular viewing does not afford."*fn3 The employer's medical expert testified that upon examination, the injured eye was scarred on the non-viewing portion of the eye; however, the visual axis remained unimpaired.*fn4 Moreover, he stated, "I think the use of the injured eye does contribute to his visual effectiveness in a positive manner, not a negative manner."*fn5

In workmen's compensation cases, a referee may accept or reject the testimony of any witness. Hoffman v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Mitchell Transport, Inc.), 87 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 44, 485 A.2d 1235 (1985). In this case, the referee accepted unequivocal medical testimony from both sides that Rakocy's injured eye still materially contributes to his

[ 114 Pa. Commw. Page 628]

    overall vision. Bauer v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Ram Construction Co.), 102 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 26, 517 A.2d 568 (1986).*fn6

Accordingly, we affirm the order of the Board.

Order

The order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, No. A-91764 dated June 5, 1987, is affirmed.

Disposition

Affirmed.


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