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GOLDEN BAY EARTHQUAKES AND EMPLOYEE'S BENEFITS INSURANCE v. WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD (BROOKS) (10/23/89)

decided: October 23, 1989.

GOLDEN BAY EARTHQUAKES AND EMPLOYEE'S BENEFITS INSURANCE, PETITIONERS,
v.
WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD (BROOKS), RESPONDENTS



PETITION FOR REVIEW, (WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION).

COUNSEL

Roger B. Wood, Harvey, Pennington, Herting & Renneisen, Ltd., Philadelphia, for petitioners.

Don P. Foster, Rubin, Quinn, Moss & Heaney, Philadelphia, for respondents.

Barry and Smith, JJ., and Barbieri, Senior Judge.

Author: Barbieri

[ 129 Pa. Commw. Page 237]

The Golden Bay Earthquakes and Employee's Benefit Insurance (Employer) petitions for review of an order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board) affirming the referee's order that John Brooks (Claimant) was entitled to receive payment of benefits for a complete loss of hearing in both ears under Section 306(c) of The Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act (Act).*fn1 We find that the Board erred in affirming the referee's order in the present case, where Claimant's work-related injury resulted in a complete loss of hearing in only his right ear, while the loss of hearing in Claimant's left ear had occurred during his childhood. Accordingly, we reverse the order of the Board insofar as it awards Claimant benefits for a complete loss of hearing in both ears, rather than a complete loss of hearing in one ear.

Claimant was employed as a professional soccer player by the Golden Bay Earthquakes, a professional indoor soccer team located in San Jose, California. On February 10, 1983, Claimant suffered a blow to the right side of his head while playing in a soccer game at the Pittsburgh Civic Arena. Claimant later filed a petition for compensation under the Act, claiming that he suffered a total loss of hearing.

In a hearing before the referee on October 12, 1983, Claimant testified that he had no hearing impairment in his

[ 129 Pa. Commw. Page 238]

    right ear prior to February 10, 1983, when he was struck in the head during a soccer game. Claimant testified that after suffering the blow, the hearing in his right ear decreased to the point where he had no hearing at all. (N.T., pp. 8-9). Claimant also testified that he had experienced a hearing loss in his left ear as a child, so that he was able to hear very little with that ear. (N.T., pp. 7-8).

The referee found that Claimant's non-work-related injury resulted in a complete loss of hearing in his left ear, and that his work-related injury resulted in a complete loss of hearing in his right ear. The referee then concluded that Claimant was entitled to receive compensation for a complete hearing loss under Section 306(c) of the Act, and awarded benefits for a 260 week period. The Board affirmed, stating that it was necessary to consider not only Claimant's actual injury, which resulted in his right ear hearing loss, but the effect of that injury, which was a complete hearing loss for all intents and purposes. Employer now petitions this Court to review the order of the Board.

Employer asserts that the specific loss provisions in Section 306(c) of the Act do not permit an award for complete loss of hearing in a situation such as the present case, where the work-related injury resulted in hearing loss to only one ear. Section 306(c) reads as follows:

For all disability resulting from permanent injuries of the following classes, the compensation shall ...


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