« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
broadly in harmony with its main aim of providing support for those dependent upon a deceased employee ” in the course of its decision in the Coakley case, below. In the Pigeon case, below, the court declares that the Workmen's Compensation Act in its practical operation affects large numbers of people, and that its declared purpose is the humane one of preventing industrial accidents and providing payments for employees injured in the course of employment. The word “court" may be “ given a signification liberal enough to include the committee of arbitration and Industrial Accident Board as instituted by the act, and under all the circumstances should be given such construction."
“Average Weekly Wages.” — The court ruled, in Gillen v. Ocean Accident and Guarantee Corporation, Ltd., that the phrase“ average weekly wages," as used in the statute," means all the wages which the employee receives in the course of a permanent employment,” and that the employee is entitled to compensation based upon his earnings as a longshoreman, working for many employers in the course of a year. In connection with this case the court considered another phase of the average weekly wage question. Referring to the first portion of the definition of “average weekly wages
» as stated in the act, the court says that “o average weekly wages' are there defined to mean earnings of the injured employee during the period of twelve calendar months immediately preceding the date of the injury, divided by fifty-two; but if the injured employee lost more than two weeks' time during such period, then the earnings for the remainder of such twelve calendar months shall be divided by the number of weeks remaining after the time so lost has been deducted.' . . . While the language is not amplified, it refers to substantially uninterrupted work in a particular employment. ... The basis is the earning capacity of the workman as shown by such employment.” Where an employee has not been in the service of his employer for a year, his average weekly wages should be ascertained by “reference to the wages of others whose employment is substantially continuous."
Assault by Intoxicated Fellow Employee. -- In McNicol v. Employers' Liability Assurance Corporation, Ltd., the court
held that the widow of an employee who received a personal injury by reason of an assault committed upon him by a fellow employee who was in the habit of drinking to intoxication, and who, when intoxicated, was quarrelsome and dangerous, and unsafe to be permitted to work with his fellow employees, — all of this being known to a person exercising superintendence, was entitled to compensation, said personal injury arising out of and in the course of the employment. Rugg, C.J., states:
It is not easy nor necessary to the determination of the case at bar to give a comprehensive definition of these words (personal injury arising out of and in the course of his employment) which shall accurately include all cases embraced within the act and with precision exclude those outside its terms. It is sufficient to say that an injury is received " in the course of” the employment when it comes while the workman is doing the duty which he is employed to perform. It arises “out of" the employment when there is apparent to the rational mind upon consideration of all the circumstances a causal connection between the conditions under which the work is required to be performed and the resulting injury. Under this test, if the injury can be seen to have followed as a natural incident of the work, and to have been contemplated by a reasonable person familiar with the whole situation as a result of the exposure occasioned by the nature of the employment, then it arises “out of” the employment. But it excludes an injury which cannot fairly be traced to the employment as a contributing proximate cause and which comes from a hazard to which the workman would have been equally exposed apart from the employment. The causative danger must be peculiar to the work and not common to the neighborhood. It must be incidental to the character of the business and not independent of the relation of master and servant. It need not to have been foreseen or expected, but after the event it must appear to have had its origin in the risk connected with the employment and to have flowed from that source as a rational consequence. . i . The injury came while the deceased was doing the work for which he was hired. It was due to the act of an obviously intoxicated fellow workman, whose quarrelsome disposition and inebriated condition were well known to the foreman of the employer. A natural result of the employment of a peaceable workman in company with a choleric drunkard might have been found to be an attack by the latter upon his companion.
McNicol Case distinguished. — The McNicol case is distinguished from a stabbing by a drunken stranger, a felonious assault by a fellow workman, or rough sport or horse-play by companions who might have been expected to be at work.
Decision rests upon Causal Connection between Injury and Employment Conditions. — The honorable chief justice
Although it may be that upon the facts here disclosed a liability on the part of the defendant for negligence at common law or under the Employers' Liability Act might have arisen, this decision does not rest upon that ground, but upon the causal connection between the injury of the deceased and the conditions under which the defendant required him to work.
Widow entitled to Compensation. — The court finds that the widow is entitled to the payment of the weekly compensation due under the act, the dependency of children being “conditioned upon the nonexistence of a surviving dependent parent."
Act has no Extra-territorial Effect. — The court ruled, in Gould v. American Mutual Liability Insurance Company, that the act did not have extra-territorial effect, and that the employee, a citizen and resident of Massachusetts, whose contract of hire was made in this State, was not entitled to compensation for a personal injury received while in the employ of a corporation organized and with its usual place of business in Massachusetts. The court states:
The question is whether the act governs the rights of parties touching injuries received outside the State. It may be assumed for the purpose of this judgment that it is within the power of the Legislature to give to the act the effect claimed for it by the employee. ... The point to be decided is whether the language used in the act indicates a purpose to make its terms applicable to injuries received outside the State. This must be deternined by a critical examination of the words of the statute in the light of its humane, purpose. There is nothing which expressly states that the act governs the rights of the parties tonching such injuries. This is significant. In the absence of unequivocal language to the contrary, it is not to be presumed that statutes respecting this relation are designed to control conduct or fix the rights of parties beyond the territorial limits of the State.
Exceptions not allowed. — The court states, in regard to procedure: The act provides only for an appeal and makes no reference to exceptions. Although exceptions are permitted in our system of equity, that is a statutory engraftment, not according to general chancery procedure, and appeal is simpler and on all grounds better practice. But where exceptions are taken, there can be no final decree until exceptions are disposed of. The present act, however, requires a decree, which in the ordinary case must be final in its nature, to be entered by the Superior Court. This precludes the possibility of exceptions. It follows that the suit must be brought here by appeal from the decree of the Superior Court, and not by exceptions. As exceptions could not be allowed legally, the case is here rightly on appeal.”
Status of Child by First Wife after Death of Father. — In the case of Coakley v. Coakley, the Supreme Judicial Court handed down a decision of unusual interest. Four children and a widow survived the deceased employee, one of the children being by the first wife of the deceased. The court ruled that the stepchild and the widow share equally the compensation due under the statute, the stepchild, as well as the widow, being conclusively presumed to be wholly dependent for support upon the employee, “there being no surviving dependent parent within the meaning of section 7 (c), Part II. of the act.
Injury to Teamster loaned to Another, subject to Control of General Employer covered by Act. — The Supreme Judicial Court held, in the case of Pigeon v. Employers' Liability Assurance Corporation, Ltd., that a teamster who had been let by his general employer into the service of another was subject to the control, and therefore is the agent, of his general employer as to care and management of the horse and vehicle; and, the injury occurring while the teamster was driving the horse to the watering trough, compensation was awarded the widow.
Finding of Board on Same Footing as that of a Judge or Jury. — In this latter case the court disposed of the point raised by the insurer, that the finding that the employee, Pigeon, was in the employ of Shaw, his general employer, at the time of the injury was not warranted by the evidence, ruling that “the finding stands upon the same footing as the finding of a judge or as a verdict of a jury. It is not to be set aside if there is any evidence upon which it can rest."
Admissibility of Evidence. — The insurer raised a question as to the admissibility of evidence received at the hearing before the committee of arbitration. A witness was permitted to testify to the declaration of the deceased employee made just before his injury, in substance, that he intended to feed and water his horse. The objection was based upon the claim that the committee of arbitration was not a court and that this evidence was incompetent, under R. L., ch. 175, $ 66.
Word “ Court” applies to Committee of Arbitration and Board. — Rugg, C.J., states: “The word 'court' has been used in statutes with a broader significance than including simply judicial officers. (See Aldrich v. Aldrich, 8 Met. 102, 106.) It may be given a signification liberal enough to include the committee of arbitration and Industrial Accident Board as instituted by the act, and under all the circumstances should be given such construction."
Compensation Conditional upon Occurrence of Personal Injury. — “If an employee receives a personal injury arising out of and in the course of his employment he shall be paid compensation by the association, as hereinafter provided, if his employer is a subscriber at the time of the injury.” (Section 1, Part II. of the act.)
“ Personal Injury,” as defined by Board. — The Industrial Accident Board has defined “personal injury,” as used in the Workmen's Compensation Act, to be “any injury or damage or harm or disease which arises out of and in the course of the employment which causes incapacity for work and takes from the employee his ability to earn wages, the act providing for the payment of compensation while the incapacity for work resulting from the injury is total,' based upon half the average weekly wages of the employee, and 'while the incapacity for work resulting from the injury is partial, based upon one-half the difference between his average weekly wages before the injury and the average weekly wages which he is able to earn thereafter,' thus making it clear that the law was intended to provide for the payment of compensation for a personal injury' which causes incapacity for work."
Injury results from Quarrel. — It was held, in the first case