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THOMAS H. COOK v. WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD (LEVEL LINE PENN EAST) (04/18/88)

decided: April 18, 1988.

THOMAS H. COOK, PETITIONER
v.
WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD (LEVEL LINE PENN EAST), RESPONDENTS



Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, in case of Thomas H. Cook v. Level Line Penn East, No. A-91726.

COUNSEL

Quintes D. Taglioli, Markowitz & Richman, for petitioner.

Barbara L. Hollenbach, Holland, Taylor & Sorrentino, for respondent, Level Line Penn East.

Judges Craig and Palladino, and Senior Judge Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Senior Judge Barbieri.

Author: Barbieri

[ 115 Pa. Commw. Page 387]

Thomas H. Cook (Claimant) petitions for review of the order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal

[ 115 Pa. Commw. Page 388]

Board (Board) which granted his claim petition for total disability effective April 8, 1983, but then found that all disability had been recovered from and terminated his benefits effective January 12, 1984. We reverse and reinstate the award of total disability.

Claimant was employed by Level Line Penn East (Employer) as a shipper. On April 5, 1983, he injured his lower back while moving a window weighing between one hundred and one hundred and fifty pounds. He attempted to work the next two days but the pain persisted and Claimant left work and sought medical treatment. Claimant was originally treated by Doctor Lawrence M. Weisbrod, board certified in orthopedics, who diagnosed Claimant's injury as spondylolisthesis of the L4 and L5 disk and nerve compression syndrome of the lower lumbar spine. Doctor Weisbrod related a medical history in which Claimant had suffered back injuries in a 1963 automobile accident which remained chronic and the referee found that Claimant had an unstable back from congenital and developmental abnormalities prior to 1983, but that Claimant's injury at work on April 5, 1983, aggravated this prior condition requiring medical treatment and surgery and was thus compensable. Doctor Weisbrod referred Claimant to Doctor Jan B. Wemple, board certified in neurosurgery. On July 7, 1983, Doctor Wemple performed a decompressive laminectomy and a bi-lateral spinal fusion on the Claimant. Following this surgery, Claimant remained under the care of Doctor Wemple.

Doctor Wemple testified by deposition that he examined Claimant on January 12, 1984. He rendered the following opinion on Claimant's ability to return to work:

Q. Could you summarize that visit for us, please, Doctor?

[ 115 Pa. Commw. Page 389]

A. Well, he looked quite well. He continued to limp, but I feel that was due to the previous leg fracture that he had. His incision was well healed. His neurological exam was stable and unchanged. He talked about going back to work, but neither I nor his orthopedic surgeon felt that heavy lifting should be done by him in the future, but we ...


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