Carey, In re, 2683

Decision Date24 May 1955
Docket NumberNo. 2683,2683
Citation283 P.2d 1005,74 Wyo. 37
PartiesClaim of Leo CAREY, an employee of the Schroeder Mining Company, made under Workmen's Compensation Law. Leo CAREY, Employee, Claimant and Appellant, v. SCHROEDER MINING COMPANY, Employer and Respondent.
CourtWyoming Supreme Court

Jones & Jones, William R. Jones, Wheatland, for appellant.

No appearance for respondent.

RINER, Chief Justice.

This is a case arising under the Workmen's Compensation Law of the State of Wyoming, W.C.S.1945, § 72-101 et seq., and the facts thereof are substantially as follows: The claimant, Leo Carey of Guernsey, Wyoming, is a married man with a wife and four children as dependents. He was employed by the Schroeder Mining Company--processing ore east of Guernsey about one and a half miles. His employment was that of a truck driver, having been in their employ for about six months. He was struck by lightning while in the office of the company after he had made out his time card. Both the Employer's Report of Accident and Amended Employer's Report of Accident state that 'Carey had turned in his time card at office and was leaning up against wall talking, it had started to rain hard and there was a heavy electrical storm. Apparently lightning struck the power line for there was a sheet of flame from light switch, this knocked Carey away, he did not fall, was conscious but numbed.' The attending physician's report stated that Carey had suffered a muscle strain; the physician's supplemental report filed thereafter showed that apparently the injuries sustained by the workman as a result of the lightning stroke were more extensive than originally estimated and a cervical brace was applied. The attending physician in the hospital stated that there was definite tenderness at the base of the skull and motions were limited due to Carey's period of immobilization, that there was also tenderness in the lower dorsal spine, that a complete muscle examination disclosed some weakness of the back muscles, particularly between the shoulders. This examining physician in the hospital commented that Carey sustained an injury to his spinal cord through an electrical shock and that apparently there had been a definite neuritis from this accident. This physician suggested that Carey continue with the use of the cervical neck brace for a period of from six to eight weeks. He felt that Carey should show gradual improvement for the next few months but that there was the possibility that Carey would have some permanent disability due to irreparable damage to the spinal cord.

It appears from the evidence that at about 5:00 p. m., July 19, 1954, Carey had dumped his last truck load for the day and had filled his truck tank with gasoline and then walked to the office of the company. Evidently, in his walk to the office of the company his clothes became more or less damp from the heavy fall of rain. Carey went into the office, reached over upon the counter, got his time card, endorsed on the back of it the number of gallons of gasoline he had put in the truck, indicated on the card that he had worked for nine hours, shoved the card over to the night watchman, and turned around. As he turned around, the lightning struck him.

The government high line carrying 4100 volts of electric current brings the current in from the west over hills. There are six large transformers that reduce the voltage down to where it is further reduced to 220 and 110 volts by transformers which were bought and installed by, and belonged to, the Schroeder Mining Company for which Carey worked. One of the government transformers was not grounded. The ground wire had been cut in two. Schroeder's transformers which were about a hundred and fifty feet west of the office were not, and never had been, grounded. There were lightning arresters on the government high line but none where the Schroeder line was taken off the government line. The circuit that went to the office of the company where the injury occurred had a fuse inside, but the pole located about four feet north of the office building on which the circuit was fixed had no lightning arresters and was not grounded.

When Carey was injured by the flash of lightning which came from the light switch, it appears that he was at a place where he was required to be in the course of his employment. Carey testified to this fact; and Mr. Thompson, office manager and timekeeper for the company, gave testimony to the same effect. It appeared from the record that in the absence of a ground wire the electric current may leap or jump to some conductor to the earth or ground. There was testimony that two previous storms had occurred in the summer of 1954. During one of the storms, a switch was burned out; and during the other, a motor was burned out. These facts clearly show that the lightning was picked up and conducted by wires in that vicinity to the Schroeder office. There was testimony that when there is no ground furnished electric current will jump to metal or a person. An electrician testified that the office building of the company was not grounded, that the pole outside the office was not grounded, and that the transformers owned by the company never were grounded. There was no conflict in the record as to the fact that the Schroeder electric line which came off the government high line with its high voltage and ran into the office building where the employees had to check out was not safeguarded by being grounded. And there were no lightning arresters where the Schroeder line came off the government line. A witness with electrical training stated that there should be lightning arresters on a 110-volt line. A ground customarily is a rod six or eight feet in length driven into the ground and a copper wire attached which grounds the case of the transformer and all ground connections on lightning arresters and the neutral wire leading to the building.

The trial court took the view that the injury suffered by Mr. Carey was an act of God and the fact that he had checked out by signing the time card before the accident occurred indicated that the injury was not sustained in and did not arise out of the employment.

Our examination of the cases wherein injuries have been sustained by lightning leads us to think that the circumstances shown by this record as being the cause of the accident and the injury establish that the case is one wherein an award should have been made to the workman. It is hardly necessary to cite our many cases holding that the Workmen's Compensation Law should be construed liberally in favor of the workman, but see Pope v. Safeway Stores, Inc., 54 Wyo. 266, 91 P.2d 58, and cases cited.

In the case entitled Bauer's Case, 314 Mass. 4, 49 N.E.2d 118, it appeared that the claimant was a medical student and was employed at the office of a Boy Scouts' camp in Antrim, New Hampshire. Electricity came to the hospital building of the camp through a wire attached to a tree just outside the hospital. The claimant in the course of his duties during the period of time when the boys went in swimming wore a bathing suit. During a rainstorm, he had been walking from cabin to cabin seeing boys who were ill as was his duty. His cloths had become quite wet, and he went to the hospital where he stayed and where his clothes were kept to change his clothing. While he still had on his wet clothes and was standing under an electric light and next to a steel bed and near to a light plug and fuse box, lightning destroyed the lights and fuse box and also all the electrical apparatus in the hospital, damaged the wall, and knocked the employee unconscious to the floor, causing injuries and disability that prevented him from returning to his work. He was totally...

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4 cases
  • Seckman v. Wyo-Ben, Inc.
    • United States
    • Wyoming Supreme Court
    • November 27, 1989
    ... ... Ed Wederski Construction Company, 668 P.2d 649 (Wyo.1983); Claim of Carey, 74 Wyo. 37, 283 P.2d 1005 (1955)), so that industry, and not the individual employee, bears the burden of accident and injury occurring within the ... ...
  • Haagensen v. State ex rel. Wyoming Workers' Compensation Div.
    • United States
    • Wyoming Supreme Court
    • December 4, 1997
    ... ... Claim of Carey, 74 Wyo. 37, 283 P.2d 1005 (1955). * * * ...         * * * Accordingly, we hold that where the elements of the premises rule, as set forth ... ...
  • Archuleta v. Carbon County School Dist. No. 1
    • United States
    • Wyoming Supreme Court
    • February 16, 1990
    ... ... Claim of Carey, 74 Wyo. 37, 283 P.2d 1005 (1955). We have also recognized that injuries occurring after ... an employee has quit or has been fired are compensable ... ...
  • Williams v. Northern Development Co.
    • United States
    • Wyoming Supreme Court
    • April 4, 1967
    ...was not made to the court by the attorney until after his services had been rendered. Counsel suggests that our ruling in Claim of Carey, 74 Wyo. 37, 42, 283 P.2d 1005, that the Workmen's Compensation Law requires that its provisions for attorney's fees, § 27-115, W.S.1957, should be libera......

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