Brock v. Industrial Commission, 1

Decision Date30 June 1971
Docket NumberCA-IC,No. 1,1
Citation486 P.2d 207,15 Ariz.App. 95
PartiesLouis BROCK, Petitioner, v. The INDUSTRIAL COMMISSION of Arizona, Respondent, City of Tempe, Respondent Employer, State Compensation Fund, Respondent Carrier. 568.
CourtArizona Court of Appeals

Morgan & Jerome, by Donald J. Morgan, Phoenix, for petitioner.

William C. Wahl, Jr., Chief Counsel, Phoenix, for respondent The Industrial Commission of Arizona.

Robert K. Park, Chief Counsel by Harlan J. Crossman, Phoenix, for respondent carrier State Compensation Fund.

HAIRE, Judge.

On this review of an award of the Industrial Commission denying the petitioning employee's claim for benefits, we are asked to decide whether a disability which is caused by or aggravated by emotional stress can render an employee 'injured by accident' within the purview of § 23--1041, subsec. A, which states:

'A. Every employee of an employer within the provisions of this chapter who is injured by accident arising out of and in the course of employment, or his dependents in event of his death, shall receive the compensation fixed in this chapter on the basis of such employee's average monthly wage at the time of injury.'

The relevant facts are undisputed and as pertinent hereto are as follows: On September 3, 1969, petitioner Louis Brock ran over and killed a woman while operating a water-truck in the course of his employment with the City of Tempe. Petitioner was initially unaware that his truck had struck the woman, and first became aware of the incident when he was advised of the same by the police. Prior to the incident, petitioner had been treated for a depressive anxiety and manic-depressive reaction. Petitioner's suspension from work pending the police investigation of the incident and his ensuing inability to prove his innocence to his neighbors aggravated these preexisting mental conditions. 1 Finally, the City of Tempe terminated petitioner's employment for reason of his worsened health problems. Although the respondent carrier appears to question somewhat the existence of any causal relationship between the September 3rd incident and petitioner's worsened mental condition, there was competent medical evidence indicating such a causal relationship, and the Commission findings clearly indicate that the Commission assumed the existence of such a relationship.

The Commission's reason for the denial of petitioner's claim is set forth in its Finding 12, which states:

'12. That since there appears to be no Arizona case that holds that purely excessive emotions, Unaccompanied by physical force or exertion, can be the basis of an accident within the purview of the Workmen's Compensation Law, applicant has not met his burden of proving by a reasonable preponderance of the evidence that he has sustained an injury by accident arising out of and in the course of his employment on September 3, 1969.' (Emphasis supplied).

The question as thus framed by the Commission finding is of first impression in Arizona. While our research has taken us to several cases, generally in the context of heart conditions, which refer to the presence of a non-physical stress producing situation as a contributing factor to the condition under discussion, there was also present in each of these cases a physical force or exertion not here present. See, for example, Rutledge v. Industrial Commission, 9 Ariz.App. 316, 451 P.2d 894 (1969); Thiel v. Industrial Commission, 1 Ariz.App. 445, 404 P.2d 711 (1965). However, our examination of these cases convinces us that the presence of a physical force or exertion was not a necessary element to the determination that the claimant had been 'injured by accident' but rather provided in these cases an easily discernible event as a basis for determining whether the injury there involved was one 'arising out of and in the course of employment'. The Thiel case, Supra, is particularly illustrative of the nature of the inquiry taken in these cases, where the issue before the court was whether the decedent employee's employment was a causal factor in the myocardial infarction he had sustained, when the proof of such causal connection was work-connected anxiety, pressure and long hours spent at the office.

Additionally, the concept of what is an 'accident' has been the subject of frequent consideration by our courts, and it is now commonly viewed to include any unexpected injury-causing event, so long as it is work-connected. Paulley v. Industrial Commission, 91 Ariz. 266, 371 P.2d 888 (1962); Flores v. Industrial Commission, 11 Ariz.App. 566, 466 P.2d 785 (1970); Jaynes...

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29 cases
  • Dunlavey v. Economy Fire and Cas. Co.
    • United States
    • Iowa Supreme Court
    • January 18, 1995
    ...a mental injury caused solely by a mental stimulus under the state's workers' compensation laws. 1 See, e.g., Brock v. Industrial Comm'n, 15 Ariz.App. 95, 486 P.2d 207 (1971); Owens v. National Health Lab., Inc., 8 Ark.App. 92, 648 S.W.2d 829 (1983); Baker v. Workmen's Compensation Appeals ......
  • Southwire Co. v. George
    • United States
    • Georgia Supreme Court
    • June 3, 1996
    ...Marie Robinson's Case, 416 Mass. 454, 623 N.E.2d 478 (1993); Todd v. Goostree, 493 S.W.2d 411 (Mo.Ct.App.1973); Brock v. Industrial Comm'n, 15 Ariz.App. 95, 486 P.2d 207 (1971); Owens v. National Health Lab., Inc., 8 Ark.App. 92, 648 S.W.2d 829 (1983); Fox v. Alascom, 718 P.2d 977 (Alaska 1......
  • Pathfinder Co. v. Industrial Commission
    • United States
    • Illinois Supreme Court
    • February 5, 1976
    ...awards include: Arizona, State Compensation Fund v. Industrial Com., 24 Ariz.App. 31, 535 P.2d 623 (1975); Brock v. Industrial Com., 15 Ariz.App. 95, 486 P.2d 207 (1971); California, Baker v. Workmen's Compensation Appeals Board, 18 Cal.App.3d 852, 96 Cal.Rptr. 279 (1971); Michigan, Carter ......
  • Seitz v. L & R Industries, Inc. (Palco Products Division)
    • United States
    • Rhode Island Supreme Court
    • December 4, 1981
    ..."mental-mental" awards include State Compensation Fund v. Indus. Comm'n, 24 Ariz.App. 31, 535 P.2d 623 (1975); Brock v. Indus. Comm'n, 15 Ariz.App. 95, 486 P.2d 207 (1971); Baker v. Workmen's Compensation Appeals Bd., 18 Cal.App.3d 852, 96 Cal.Rptr. 279 (1971); Carter v. General Motors Corp......
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