Thursday, June 19, 2003

Another Presbycusis Theory Rejected in Commonwealth Court

In Wheeling Pittsburgh Steel Corp. v. WCAB (Bruce) the Employer's expert, Dr. Chen, posited that the predominant portion of sensorineural hearing loss occurs during the first ten (10) to fifteen (15) years of noise exposure, and the Claimant had an interim audiogram with a 5.63% binaural hearing loss. Dr. Chen testified as the Claimant then aged, he acquired age-related hearing loss that brought him up to 14.325%. Dr. Chen cited a treatise supporting his analysis. However, the WCJ credited Dr. Bell, who related all 14.325% to cumulative occupational noise exposure.

The Board affirmed, and the Employer argued before the Court that the Board erred in applying Mozena in this situation because Dr. Chen did not use a table to deduct age-related hearing loss. The Court rejected this argument, holding "A WCJ may dismiss an entire school of science if he determines it lacks credibility." The Court did not award counsel fees for a frivolous appeal however, finding it was reasonable for the Employer to seek this clarification of Mozena.

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