Crowell v. Benson Crowell v. Same, Nos. 19

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtHUGHES
Citation52 S.Ct. 285,76 L.Ed. 598,285 U.S. 22
Decision Date23 February 1932
Docket NumberNos. 19,20
PartiesCROWELL, Deputy Commissioner, v. BENSON. CROWELL, Deputy Commissioner, et al. v. SAME

285 U.S. 22
52 S.Ct. 285
76 L.Ed. 598
CROWELL, Deputy Commissioner,

v.

BENSON. CROWELL, Deputy Commissioner, et al. v. SAME.

Nos. 19, 20.
Argued Oct. 20, 21, 1931.
Decided Feb. 23, 1932.

[Syllabus from pages 22-25 intentionally omitted]

Page 25

The Attorney General, and Mr. Thomas D. Thacher, Sol. Gen., of Washington, D. C. (Messrs. Erwin N. Griswold and Wilbur H. Friedman, both of Washington, D. C., on the brief), for petitioner Crowell.

[Argument of Counsel from pages 25-31 intentionally omitted]

Page 31

Messrs. Alexis T. Gresham and Palmer Pillans, both of Mobile, Ala., for petitioner Knudsen.

[Argument of Counsel intentionally omitted]

Page 32

Messrs. Harry T. Smith and Vincent Kilborn, both of Mobile, Ala., for respondent.

[Argument of Counsel from pages 32-36 intentionally omitted]

Page 36

Mr. Chief Justice HUGHES delivered the opinion of the Court.

This suit was brought in the District Court to enjoin the enforcement of an award made by petitioner Crowell, as Deputy Commissioner of the United States Employees' Compensation Commission, in favor of the petitioner Knudsen and against the respondent Benson. The award was made under the Longshoremen's and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (Act of March 4, 1927, c. 509, 44 Stat. 1424, U. S. C. tit. 33, §§ 901-950 (33 USCA §§ 901-950)), and rested upon

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the finding of the deputy commissioner that Knudsen was injured while in the employ of Benson and prforming service upon the navigable waters of the United States. The complainant alleged that the award was contrary to law for the reason that Kundsen was not at the time of his injury an employee of the complainant and his claim was not 'within the jurisdiction' of the Deputy Commissioner. An amended complaint charged that the act was unconstitutional upon the grounds that it violated the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment, the provision of the Seventh Amendment as to trial by jury, that of the Fourth Amendment as to unreasonable search and seizure, and the provisions of article 3 with respect to the judicial power of the United States. The District Judge denied motions to dismiss and granted a hearing de novo upon the facts and the law, expressing the opinion that the act would be invalid if not construed to permit such a hearing. The case was transferred to the admiralty docket, answers were filed presenting the issue as to the fact of employment, and, the evidence of both parties having been heard, the District Court decided that Knudsen was not in the employ of the petitioner and restrained the enforcement of the award. 33 F.(2d) 137; 38 F.(2d) 306. The decree was affirmed by the Circuit Court of Appeals (45 F.(2d) 66) and this Court granted writs of certiorari. 283 U. S. 814, 51 S. Ct. 353, 75 L. Ed. 1430.

The question of the validity of the act may be considered in relation to (1) its provisions defining substantive rights and (2) its procedural requirements.

First. The act has two limitations that are fundamental. It deals exclusively with compensation in respect of disability or death resulting 'from an injury occurring upon the navigable waters of the United States' if recovery 'through workmen's compensation proceedings

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may not validly be provided by State law,' and it applies only when the relation of master and servant exists. Section 3.1 'Injury,' within the statute, 'means accidental injury or death arising out of and in the course of employment,' and the term 'employer' means one 'any of whose employees are employed in maritime employment, in whole or in part,' upon such navigable waters. Section 2(2)(4), 33 USCA § 902 (2, 4). Employers are made liable for the payment to their employees of prescribed compensation 'irrespective of fault as a cause for the injury.' Section 4 (33 USCA § 904). The liability is exclusive, unless the employer fails to secure payment of the compensation. Section 5 (33 USCA § 905). The employer is required to furnish appropriate medical and other treatment. Section 7 (33 USCA § 907). The compensation for temporary or permanent disability, total or partial, according to the statutory classification, and in case of the death of the employee, is fixed, being based upon prescribed percentages of average weekly wages, and the persons to whom payments are to be made are designated. Sections 6, 8, 9, 10 (33 USCA §§ 906, 908, 909, 910). Employers must secure the pay-

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ment of compensation by procuring insurance or by becoming self-insruers in the manner stipulated. Section 32 (33 USCA § 932). Failure to provide such security is a misdemeanor. Section 38 (33 USCA § 938).

As the act relates solely to injuries occurring upon the navigable waters of the United States, it deals with the maritime law, applicable to matters that fall within the admiralty and maritime jurisdiction (Const. Art. 3, § 2; Nogueira v. N. Y., N. H. & H. R. Co., 281 U. S. 128, 138, 50 S. Ct. 303, 74 L. Ed. 754), and the general authority of the Congress to alter or revise the maritime law which shall prevail throughout the country is beyond dispute. 2 In limiting the application of the act to cases where recovery 'through workmen's compensation proceedings may not validly be provided by State law,' the Congress evidently had in view the decisions of this Court with respect to the scope of the exclusive authority of the national Legislature.3 The pro-

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priety of providing by federal statute for compensation of employees in such cases had been expressly recognized by this Court,4 and within its sphere the statute was designed to accomplish the same general purpose as the Workmen's Compensation Laws of the states.5 In de-

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fining substantive rights, the act provides for recovery in the absence of fault, classifies disabilities resulting from injuries, fixes the range of compensation in case of disability or death, and designates the classes of beneficiaries. In view of federal power to alter and revise the maritime law, there appears to be no room for objection on constitutional grounds to the creation of these rights, unless it can be found in the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment. But it cannot be said that either the classifications of the statute or the extent of the compensation provided are unreasonable. In view of the difficulties which inhere in the ascertainment of actual damages, the Congress was entitled to provide for the payment of amounts which would reasonably approximate the probable damages. See Chicago, B. & Q. R. Co. v. Cram, 228 U. S. 70, 84, 33 S. Ct. 437, 57 L. Ed. 734; compare Missouri Pacific R. Co. v. Tucker, 230 U. S. 346, 348, 33 S. Ct. 961, 57 L. Ed. 1507. Liability without fault is not unknown to the maritime law,6 and,

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apart from this fact, considerations are applicable to the substantive provisions of this legislation, with respect to the relation of master and servant, similar to those which this Court has found sufficient to sustain workmen's compensation laws of the states against objections under the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. New York Central R. Co. v. White, 243 U. S. 188, 37 S. Ct. 247, 61 L. Ed. 667, L. R. A. 1917D, 1, Ann. Cas. 1917D, 629; Mountain Timber Company v. Washington, 243 U. S. 219, 37 S. Ct. 260, 61 L. Ed. 685, Ann. Cas. 1917D, 642; Ward & Gow v. Krinsky, 259 U. S. 503, 42 S. Ct. 529, 66 L. Ed. 1033, 28 A. L. R. 1207; Lower Vein Coal Co. v. Industrial Board, 255 U. S. 144, 41 S. Ct. 252, 65 L. Ed. 555; Madera Sugar Pine Company v. Industrial Accident Commission, 262 U. S. 499, 501, 502, 43 S. Ct. 604, 67 L. Ed. 1091; Sheehan Company v. Shuler, 265 U. S. 371, 44 S. Ct. 548, 68 L. Ed. 1061, 35 A. L. R. 1056; Dahlstrom Metallic Door Company v. Industrial Board, 284 U. S. 594, 52 S. Ct. 202, 76 L. Ed. —, decided January 18, 1932. See Nogueira v. N. Y., N. H. & H. R. Co., supra, at pages 136, 137 of 281 U. S., 50 S. Ct. 303, 74 L. Ed. 754.

Second. The objections to the procedural requirements of the act relate to the extent of the administrative authority which it confers. The administration of the act-'except as otherwise specifically provided'-was given to the United States Employees' Compensation Commission,7 which was authorized to establish compensation districts, appoint deputy commissioners, and make regulations. Sections 39, 40 (33 USCA §§ 939, 940). Claimants must give written notice to the deputy commissioner and to the employer of the injury or death within thirty days thereafter; the deputy commissioner may excuse failure to give such notice for satisfactory reasons. Section 12 (33 USCA § 912). If the employer contests the right to compensation, he is to file notice to that effect. Section 14(d) 33 USCA § 914(d). A claim for compensation must be filed with

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the deputy commissioner within a prescribed period, and it is provided that the deputy commissioner shall have full authority to hear and determine all questions in respect to the claim. Sections 13, 19(a), 33 USCA §§ 913, 919(a). Within ten days after the claim is filed, the deputy commissioner, in accordance with regulations prescribed by the Commission, must notify the employer and any other person who is considered by the deputy commissioner to be an interested party. The deputy commissioner is required to make, or cause to be made, such investigations as he deems to be necessary, and upon application of any interested party must order a hearing, upon notice, at which the claimant and the employer may present evidence. Employees claiming compensation must submit to medical examination. Section 19 (33 USCA § 919). In conducting investigations and hearings, the deputy commissioner is not bound by common law or statutory rules of evidence, or by technical or formal rules or procedure, except as the act provides, but he is to proceed in such manner 'as to best ascertain the rights of the parties.' Section 23(a), 33 USCA § 923(a). He may issue...

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1369 practice notes
  • Ingebretsen v. Jackson Public School Dist., No. 3:94-cv-411WS.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Southern District of Mississippi
    • September 2, 1994
    ...407, 412, 74 L.Ed.2d 235 (1982); Califano v. Yamasaki, 442 U.S. 682, 693, 99 S.Ct. 2545, 2553, 61 L.Ed.2d 176 (1979); Crowell v. Benson, 285 U.S. 22, 62, 52 S.Ct. 285, 296, 76 L.Ed. 598 (1932). This canon of statutory construction does not require, however, that the court press a particular......
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    ...the Supreme Court. United States v. Thirty-Seven Photographs, 402 U.S. 363, 369, 91 S.Ct. 1400, 28 L.Ed.2d 822 (1971); Crowell v. Benson, 285 U.S. 22, 62, 52 S.Ct. 285, 76 L.Ed. 598 (1932). In this case, it is possible that the relief requested could be granted upon a finding of discriminat......
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    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
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    ...be construed in conformity with international law to avoid a constitutional issue if "fairly possible." See, e.g., Crowell v. Benson, 285 U.S. 22, 62, 52 S.Ct. 285, 76 L.Ed. 598 (1932); Zadvydas, 121 S.Ct. at 2501. In this task the court should make the minimal changes necessary to bring th......
  • Bacon v. Holzman, No. 67 C 177.
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    • February 17, 1967
    ...85 L.Ed. 624 (1941). Although strict adherence to the common-law rules of evidence at the hearing is not required, see Crowell v. Benson, 285 U.S. 22, 48, 52 S.Ct. 285, 76 L.Ed. 598 (1932), the parties must generally be allowed an opportunity to know the claims of the opposing party, Morgan......
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  • Borax Consolidated v. City of Los Angeles, No. 34
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • November 11, 1935
    ...Carr, 125 U.S. 618, 625, 8 S.Ct. 1228, 31 L.Ed. 844; Hardin v. Jordan, 140 U.S. 371, 401, 11 S.Ct. 838, 35 L.Ed. 428; Crowell v. Benson, 285 U.S. 22, 58, 59, 52 S.Ct. 285, 76 L.Ed. 598. Here, the question goes to the existence of the subject upon which the Land Department was competent to a......
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    ...of requiring a clear statement from Congress when it legislates at the limit of its constitutional powers, see, e.g., Crowell v. Benson, 285 U.S. 22, 62, 52 S.Ct. 285, 296, 76 L.Ed. 598 (1932), my Brethren approve a departure from settled constitutional understanding despite a clear stateme......
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    ...of constitutional fact, those "upon which the enforcement of the constitutional rights of the citizen depend." See Crowell v. Benson, 285 U.S. 22, 56, 60, 52 S.Ct. 285, 76 L.Ed. 598 (1932) ("In cases brought to enforce constitutional rights, the judicial power of the United States necessari......
  • Ingebretsen v. Jackson Public School Dist., No. 3:94-cv-411WS.
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    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Southern District of Mississippi
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  • Administering the National Environmental Policy Act
    • United States
    • Environmental Law Reporter Nbr. 45-4, April 2015
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    ..., 47 Yale L.J. 766 (1938); McFarland, supra note 52, at 179-81; Dickinson, supra note 47, at 157-76. 56. See e.g. , Crowell v. Benson, 285 U.S. 22 (1932). Jurisdictional statutes providing for review of agency orders eventually insulated the named agency from judicial review of interlocutor......
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    • The Georgetown Journal of Law & Public Policy Nbr. 18-1, January 2020
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    ...in practice if administrative agencies could sidestep those constraints without legal review or repercussions.”). 120. Crowell v. Benson, 285 U.S. 22, 86–87 (1932) (“The ‘judicial power’ of Article III of the Constitution is the power of the federal government, and not of any inferior tribu......
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