321 Mass. 694 (1947), Charon's Case

Citation321 Mass. 694, 75 N.E.2d 511
Case DateNovember 04, 1947
CourtSupreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts

Page 694

321 Mass. 694 (1947)

75 N.E.2d 511


Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Berkshire.

November 4, 1947

September 16, 1947.

Present: QUA, C.


Workmen's Compensation Act, Injury to which act applies. Proximate Cause. Words, "Personal injury."

Incapacity of an employee, due to paralysis of his left side directly traceable solely to fright caused by noise and a flash of light accompanying the blowing out of electric motors induced by a bolt of lightning striking the employee's place of work, was compensable under the workmen's compensation act.

On evidence that, when an employee sustained an injury, he was not actually engaged in performance of his duties but was eating his lunch on his employer's premises as permitted by the employer, a finding was warranted that the injury arose out of and in the course of his employment.

Page 695

CERTIFICATION to the Superior Court of a decision by the Industrial Accident Board.

The case was heard by Burns, J.

J. N. Alberti, (B.

Lenhoff with him,) for the claimant.

M. J. Aldrich, (A.

E. Quimby with him,) for the insurer.

RONAN, J. This is a proceeding under the workmen's compensation act to secure an award of compensation for injuries received by the employee under the following circumstances. A severe storm occurred while the employee was eating her lunch at the machine at which she worked on the first floor of a four-story mill building. Lightning struck the roof and followed the sprinkler system to the first floor where it burned out or blew out three motors, causing a loud noise and a considerable flash of light, frightening the employees, and producing such a shock to the claimant that she sustained a hemiplegia or paralysis of her left side. The reviewing board found that the hemiplegia was directly traceable to the fright caused by the blowing out of the motors, accompanied by the noise and flash of light which were induced by the bolt of lightning, and that the harm sustained by her constituted a personal injury which arose out of and in the course of her employment. The board awarded her compensation. The employee appealed from a decree of the Superior Court dismissing her claim.

The employee was not struck by lightning or by any physical object. The harm she sustained was caused solely by the sudden shock or fright suffered when the lightning blew out the motors. There was evidence that as a result of her fright she suffered a paralysis of her left side so extensive as to deprive her of gainful employment. We do not understand that the insurer contends that she did not sustain a personal injury...

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