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WILLIAM M. MUNDORFF v. WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD (TIPPINS MACHINERY) (09/18/89)

decided: September 18, 1989.

WILLIAM M. MUNDORFF, PETITIONER,
v.
WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD (TIPPINS MACHINERY), RESPONDENTS



PETITION FOR REVIEW (WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION).

COUNSEL

Amiel B. Caramanna, Jr., Alexander J. Pentecost, Pittsburgh, for petitioner.

Harry W. Rosensteel, Faderewski & Herrington, Pittsburgh, for respondents.

Crumlish, Jr., President Judge, Colins, J., and Narick, Senior Judge.

Author: Colins

[ 128 Pa. Commw. Page 554]

William Mundorff (claimant) petitions for review of an order of the Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board) affirming a referee's decision denying claimant's petition for total disability benefits.

Claimant suffered a work-related injury on August 19, 1980 when he cut off part of his left thumb with a power saw while working as a class-C fitter for Tippins Machinery (employer). The thumb was amputated through the base of its proximal phalanx.*fn1 A small part of the base of the proximal phalanx remained intact and was fused to the base

[ 128 Pa. Commw. Page 555]

    of the thumb. The wound healed without infection and claimant regained good motion at the base of the thumb. Pursuant to a notice of compensation payable dated September 17, 1980 and a supplemental agreement dated November 11, 1980, claimant was paid benefits for the loss of the left thumb and the attendant healing period.

On July 1, 1981, at the recommendation of M. Russell Leslie, M.D., claimant underwent a pollicization of his left index finger. This involved the amputation of the finger and its repositioning onto the base of the thumb in order to replace the amputated thumb. Despite two follow-up procedures, the "new thumb" did not achieve the level of functioning desired. Claimant cannot pinch the tip of the thumb against any of the tips of his other fingers; he is unable to move the thumb away from the palm far enough to form a circle; and he is unable to use the thumb as a post for grasping his other fingers.

Claimant filed a petition to review the notice of compensation payable with the Bureau of Workers' Compensation on August 27, 1982, alleging total loss of use. The referee denied claimant's petition and the Board affirmed the denial. Claimant now petitions to this Court for review of the Board's order.

Our scope of review is limited to a determination of whether or not constitutional rights were violated, an error of law was committed, or a necessary finding of fact is unsupported by substantial evidence. 2 Pa.C.S. § 704.

Claimant initially received benefits for specific loss of his left thumb under Section 306(c) of The Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act (Act), Act of June 2, 1915, P.L. 736, as amended, 77 P.S. § 513. He now submits that he is entitled to benefits for total loss under the limited exception contained in Section 306(c) of the Act. This exception provides that compensation for total loss under Section 306(a) of the ...


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