Appeal from the Order, entered January 29, 1987, by the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania at No. 3012 C.D. 1984, affirming the Order, entered September 27, 1984, by the Department of Labor and Industry, Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, at No. A-84931, Affirming the Award, filed October 15, 1982, by the Department of Labor and Industry, Bureau of Workers' Compensation, at No. 582-12-5911.
Larsen, Flaherty, McDermott, Zappala, Papadakos and Stout, JJ. McDermott, J., files a concurring opinion.
This is an appeal by Globe Security Systems Company and National Union Fire Insurance Company from the award of fatal claims benefits, arising from suicide, under section 301(a) of the Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act, Pa.Stat.Ann. tit. 77, § 431 (Purdon 1952 & Supp. 1987). See Globe Sec. Sys. Co. v. Workmen's Comp. Appeal Bd., 103 Pa. Commw. 384, 520 A.2d 545 (1987). In relevant part, that law provides:
Every employer shall be liable for compensation for . . . the death of each employe, by an injury in the course of his employment, and such compensation shall be paid in all cases by the employer, without regard to negligence . . . . Provided, That no compensation shall be paid when the . . . death is intentionally self inflicted . . . .
On February 10, 1978, Globe Security Systems Company employed Jorge Guerrero as a security guard at a state liquor store. On that day, two men entered the store and attempted a robbery. Jorge Guerrero and another individual thwarted the robbers and, shortly thereafter, escorted the men out of the store. Mr. Guerrero detained the two men and waited for the police to arrive. While doing so, Mr. Guerrero's gun, which he had pointed at the throat of one of the robbers, accidentally discharged and severely injured the man. Mr. Guerrero then re-entered the lobby of the liquor store, stood alone for about two minutes, exited
the store and, using the same gun, fatally shot himself in the head.
Shortly after her husband's death, Roberta Guerrero petitioned for fatal claims benefits under section 301.*fn1 She alleged that, although her husband died due to a self-inflicted wound, he had become so emotionally disturbed at accidentally shooting the would-be-robber that he did so unintentionally. On direct examination, Mrs. Guerrero's medical expert noted, over objection, that Jorge tested as "warm-hearted and easygoing," N.T. March 26, 1981 at 10, and fell within normal limits with respect to both his physical and psychological tests, based on the battery of tests that Jorge had taken to determine whether he was physically fit to handle a lethal weapon and otherwise to perform his job. When asked his opinion concerning the cause of death, from his study of Jorge Guerrero and the circumstances surrounding his death, the expert responded:
[Jorge Guerrero] as a result of . . . the man who got shot being shot, suffered an acute psychotic episode, and as a result of this psychotic episode -- a psychotic episode, I might say, is someone who is out of contact with reality at the time -- and as a result of this, Mr. Guerrero shot himself.
Id. 13. He likened Jorge's reaction to hysterical phychoses that soldiers experience in combat.
Globe Security's medical expert opined, on the other hand, that there was no adequate proof available to establish that the decedent had any mental disturbance when he shot himself and, therefore, his suicide was intentional. This
expert did admit, however, that Jorge's suicide was related to the prior ...