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ZETTA L. KEMP v. WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD (ELKLAND ELECTRIC COMPANY (11/09/88)

decided: November 9, 1988.

ZETTA L. KEMP, PETITIONER
v.
WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD (ELKLAND ELECTRIC COMPANY, INC.), RESPONDENTS



Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, in the case of Zetta L. Kemp v. Elkland Electric Company, Inc., No. A-93587.

COUNSEL

William A. Hebe, Spencer, Gleason & Hebe, for appellant.

Robert F. Cox, Sr., with him, William R. Stokes, II, Cox and Cox, P.C., for appellee.

Judges Doyle and McGinley, and Senior Judge Kalish, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Doyle. Judge MacPhail did not participate in the decision in this case.

Author: Doyle

[ 121 Pa. Commw. Page 24]

This is an appeal by Zetta L. Kemp (Claimant) from an order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board which affirmed the decision of the referee dismissing Claimant's claim petition.

The referee found that on May 15, 1985 Claimant filed a claim petition alleging that she had sustained a work-related psychic injury caused by her employment with Elkland Electric Company (Employer) or rather, as will be explained, her unemployment with Employer. Claimant had been employed as a bookkeeper by Employer for more than ten years. She testified that she was in good health until she read in a newspaper article that her job would be eliminated because her Employer was going to computerize her department. Subsequent conversations with Employer confirmed this information and Claimant learned she would be terminated from her job in March of 1985. Following the receipt of that

[ 121 Pa. Commw. Page 25]

    information Claimant began to exhibit certain symptoms including sleeplessness, colitis, loss of weight, depression, chest pains and discomfort. She was upset over the loss of her job because it was her only source of income and she did not know if other employment would be available to her. Employer explained to Claimant that her job was being phased out not because of her work but because the company was computerizing its bookkeeping operations and reassured her that she was a good bookkeeper.

Claimant had seen Dr. Curtis P. Swagler, her treating physician, as early as June of 1984. At that point she expressed concern over the possible loss of her job. She was also concerned that her only son was leaving for school and that she would be alone and unemployed. Although Claimant indicated the existence of some chest pain at the time, the doctor did not feel it was cardiovascular in nature. In March of 1985, however, Claimant was having tachycardia (i.e. relatively rapid heart action) which the doctor related to stress and depression and the anxiety of losing her job. Dr. John Steele, Employer's medical expert, examined Claimant on November 21, 1985. He, too, noted physical symptoms, but believed they were not caused by Claimant's job but her anxiety over her future.

The referee specifically found that Claimant had had no difficulty performing her job duties. It was not until her employment relationship was in jeopardy that Claimant began to experience problems. After considering all of this testimony, the referee determined that the Claimant's problems were based upon anxieties over the loss of her job and not the job itself. Therefore, he determined that she had failed to meet her burden of proof to show that she sustained a compensable injury

[ 121 Pa. Commw. Page 26]

    and dismissed her petition. The Board affirmed and ...


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