Crowner v. Baltimore United Butchers Ass'n

Citation175 A.2d 7,226 Md. 606
Decision Date08 November 1961
Docket NumberNo. 41,41
CourtCourt of Appeals of Maryland

Solomon Liss, Baltimore (Harold I. Glaser, Baltimore, on the brief), for appellant.

J. Howard Holzer, Asst. Atty. Gen., and Philip T. McCusker, Sp. Atty., Baltimore (Thomas B. Finan, Atty. Gen., on the brief), for appellees.



Roland G. Crowner, claimant and appellant, was employed full time as a laborer by Armour and Company, in a meat packing plant in Baltimore City. He had been employed by them for a number of years and earned $2.27 an hour, making his average weekly wages for a normal, forty hour week $90.80. In addition, for a period of approximately three years, Crowner had been employed by Baltimore United Butchers Association (hereafter referred to as Baltimore United), one of the appellees herein, as a laborer, performing substantially the same services as for Armour and Company, one Saturday of each month, and received $15 for each Saturday that he worked.

On February 16, 1957, while working for Baltimore United, claimant sustained a compensable injury to his left arm and shoulder which resulted in a 40% permanent partial disability of the left arm. On March 14, 1958, the Workmen's Compensation Commission determined that he had sustained a 40% loss of use of his left arm and awarded him compensation for this permanent partial disability. It found his average weekly wage to be $3.46 per week.

The appellant contended that taking into consideration his earnings from Armour and Company and Baltimore United, his average weekly earnings were in excess of $100 per week, and that he therefore was entitled to be compensated at the rate of $25 per week for the period of 100.8 weeks. Code (1957), Article 101, Section 36, Par. (3)(a) and (b). In the alternative he contended that even if his earnings at Armour and Company were not to be considered, his average weekly wage was $15 per week and that he therefore was entitled to be compensated at the rate of 100.8 times $15. The Commission used the formula of multiplying the $15 received by the claimant each month from Baltimore United by 12 and then dividing the total by 52 weeks. By this formula the Commission determined that the average weekly wage of the claimant was $3.46 per week. From the judgment thereon an appeal was taken to the Baltimore City Court, where Judge Prendergast, sitting without a jury, affirmed the Commission, and this appeal is taken from his finding. The only question to be decided is what was the appellant's average weekly wage and how should his average weekly wage be determined.

This case presents a question not previously presented to this Court, but its determination has been suggested by our decisions on other related questions.

Code (1957), Article 101, § 67(8) defines average weekly wage as follows:

"Average weekly wages' for the purposes of this article shall be taken to mean the average weekly wages earned by an employee when working on full time, and shall include tips and the reasonable value of board, rent, housing, lodging or similar advantages received from an employer, and if any employee shall receive wages paid in part by his employer and in part by the United States under any veterans' benefit law enacted by Congress the term 'average weekly wages' shall mean the total average weekly wages from both sources earned by such an employee when working on fulltime.'

Prior to the amendment of this section to its present form it was held that the value of board and room at no fixed price could not be calculated and added to money wages. Picanardi v. Emerson Hotel Co., 135 Md. 92, 108 A. 483.

In Campbell Coal Co. v. Stuby, 159 Md. 280, 150 A. 878, it was held that where the work [coal mining] was part time at best it could not be calculated at full time by the calendar.

Stevenson v. Hill, 171 Md. 572, 189 A. 910, held that the average weekly wages earned by an employee when working on full time were to be determined by an average of the amount which the employee might have earned working all the time that the mines in the region generally were operated over a period immediately preceding the injury.

In discussing the relationship between the premiums paid and the Workmen's Compensation coverage in Stevenson v. Hill, supra, 171 Md. at page 577, 189 A. at page 913 this Court said:

'The premiums paid or set aside to constitute the fund are thus ascertained. The actual earnings are taken as determining the risk in loss of earnings or capacity. This correspondence would have to be disregarded to accept the present claimant's contention.

The insurance premiums and the fund built up for compensation would lose their relation to the compensation to be paid. Employers distributing work on the share-the-work plan would multiply the responsibility for compensation without any increase in work done. Part-time work for the benefit of employees during a time of depression could be provided only under a like disproportionate burden of compensation. Conceivably workmen injured might be entitled to receive much more by reason of their injuries than they could possibly earn at work.'

This Court held in Merrill v. State Military Department, 152 Md. 474, 136 A. 897, 898, that such 'average weekly wages' of a member of the state militia, injured in time of peace while engaged in military service, who was, by an Act of the Legislature, a workman for the purpose of receiving compensation, should be calculated upon the amount payable to him when employed for a continuous period for at least one week, as during the summer encampment.

Appellant urges that in keeping with the social purpose of the Compensation law, which is remedial in character, the construction given the language of the statute should be resolved in favor of the claimant. The actual provisions of the statute (Code (1957), Article 101, § 63) are that the rule that statutes in derogation of the common law are to be strictly construed shall not apply to the Workmen's Compensation Act and that it 'shall be so interpreted and construed as to effectuate its general purpose.' This does not require a disregard of the clear meaning of the Act so as to favor any one group. Rumple v. Henry H. Meyer Co., Inc., 208 Md. 350, 360, 118 A.2d 486. There is a formula for arriving at the average weekly wage spelled out by the statute. This Court has several times stated...

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19 cases
  • Richard Beavers Constr., Inc. v. Wagstaff
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • March 1, 2018
    ...the employer where working under a specific contract of hire existing between the employer and employee." Crowner v. Balt. United Butchers Ass'n , 226 Md. 606, 610, 175 A.2d 7 (1961) (emphasis added).7 The Court's use of conditional language (i.e., what the employee "might have earned" or w......
  • UNINSURED EMPLOYERS v. Pennel, 1788
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • July 5, 2000
    ...were calculated on a payroll basis, the compensation to be awarded an injured employee must be calculated on the same basis." 226 Md. 606, 611, 175 A.2d 7 (1961) (citing Picanardi v. Emerson Hotel Co., 135 Md. 92, 108 A. 483 (1919)). The Court in Picanardi "It is quite clear that it is the ......
  • R & T Const. Co. v. Judge
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • September 1, 1989
    ...a conflict of ambiguity so that the provision may be interpreted in favor of the injured worker. See Crowner v. Baltimore United Butchers Association, 226 Md. 606, 610, 175 A.2d 7 (1961). As we have seen, we have construed § 37(a) as dealing with "medical services". Neither this Court nor t......
  • Long v. Injured Workers' Ins. Fund
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • September 30, 2015 included when determining AWW. See LE § 9–602(a)(2).14 To some extent, at least, appellant also relies on Crowner v. Balto. United Butchers Ass'n, 226 Md. 606, 175 A.2d 7 (1961), to resolve the question concerning insurance premiums. In that case, the claimant, at the time of his injury,......
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