Appeal from the order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in the case of Margaret Brandon v. Retreat State Hospital, No. A-92535.
Nicholas S. Mattise, Robert W. Munley, P.C., for petitioner.
Daniel A. Miscavige, for respondent, State Workmen's Insurance Fund.
Judges Barry and Smith, and Senior Judge Narick, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Senior Judge Narick. Judge MacPhail did not participate in the decision in this case.
[ 122 Pa. Commw. Page 576]
Margaret G. Brandon (Claimant) has petitioned for review of an order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board), which affirmed a referee's denial of workmen's compensation benefits based on a recurrence of her compensable injury.
Claimant was injured on June 26, 1979 when she tripped in a hole in the parking lot at Retreat State Hospital (Employer). She sustained injuries to her left ankle, left knee and lower back for which she received workmen's compensation payments pursuant to agreement. She ultimately required surgery on her left knee. Following this surgery, her treating physician, Dr. Raklewicz, released her to return to work on September 26, 1980. Thereafter, she signed a final receipt.
On June 25, 1982, Claimant filed a claim petition, seeking additional compensation for total disability due to the June 26, 1979 injury, dating from May 1981.
The case was assigned to a workmen's compensation referee, who treated the claim petition as a petition to set aside final receipt, and denied the petition. The Board, while affirming the referee's refusal to grant a petition to set aside final receipt, remanded for the referee to consider whether the Claimant had suffered a recurrence of her initial injury so as to entitle her to benefits.*fn1 The parties agreed that no additional evidence
[ 122 Pa. Commw. Page 577]
was required*fn2 and submitted the matter to the referee, who decided that Claimant had failed to meet her burden of proving a recurrence. The Board affirmed, and the Claimant's appeal from that order is now before us.*fn3
The essence of Claimant's argument is that the referee's findings are not supported by substantial competent evidence. The pertinent findings are as follows:
It is elementary that an injured employe seeking reinstatement of benefits has the burden of proving the causal connection between the current condition and the prior work-related injury. There is, in fact, a need for unequivocal medical testimony to establish a continuing disability, especially in those cases where the Claimant resumed work as was the case here. There is no dispute that Claimant returned to her work ...