Foxworth v. Florida Indus. Com'n

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Florida
Writing for the CourtHardee, Jr., Tampa; DREW; The petitioner; PER CURIAM; DREW; HOBSON; Petitioner; ROBERTS
Citation86 So.2d 147
Decision Date27 May 1955
PartiesJ. W. FOXWORTH, Petitioner, v. FLORIDA INDUSTRIAL COMMISSION, and the Fidelity & Casualty Co. of New York, Respondents.

Page 147

86 So.2d 147
J. W. FOXWORTH, Petitioner,
v.
FLORIDA INDUSTRIAL COMMISSION, and the Fidelity & Casualty Co. of New York, Respondents.
Supreme Court of Florida, En Banc.
May 27, 1955.
Rehearing Denied Oct. 12, 1955.

Page 148

C. J. Hardee, Jr., Tampa, for petitioner.

R. Corbin Glos and Shackleford, Farrior, Shannon & Stallings, Tampa, Burnis T. Coleman and Rodney Durrance, Tallahassee, for respondents.

DREW, Chief Justice.

The petitioner, J. W. Foxworth, brings this proceeding for a writ of certiorari to review an order of the Florida Industrial Commission which affirmed an order of the Deputy Commissioner denying compensation to Foxworth. He challenges the sufficiency of the evidence under the law to support the findings of fact and denial of his claim for compensation.

Claimant was employed as an inspector in the Tampa area by the Florida Industial Commission. For more than ten years prior to the subject injury he suffered from arthritis. He was wholly incapacitated by that disease from 1943 to 1947. This action is to recover for an injury due to a fracture of the hip alleged to have been suffered by him on November 18, 1952 as the result of a fall in the lobby of the Casa Blanca Hotel while he was in Miami Beach attending a convention of the Industrial Commission. At the hearing before the Commissioner claimant testified that on the morning of Monday, November 18, 1952, well before the time of the 10:00 a. m. meeting, he was sitting on the arm of an upholstered chair in the hotel lobby talking to other persons, including his superior. He then obtained permission, from his superior, to go to Lincoln Road to get something for his grandchildren and started to leave. In his own words, 'I got off of the arm of the chair, made a couple of steps from there

Page 149

is my impression and the last thing I remember is my daughter walking over to me on my left side because we were about to leave there together.'

Seven eyewitnesses testified to the events which took place at the time of the alleged fall. One of these, who was twenty-five to thirty feet away from claimant, did state that he saw the claimant's right rear hip in the area of a man's right rear trouser pocket come in contact with the front of the left arm of a chair which was upholstered. The other six witnesses, however, testified either that they did not see claimant come in contact with the chair or any object or that he did not do so. All agreed that the claimant suddenly had severe muscle spasms, 'blacked out' and started to fall, and was caught by those close to him before he struck the floor.

Claimant was taken to the hospital and remained unconscious for several days. He was treated there for about ten days and has ever since been wholly disabled. About a month later x-rays were taken which revealed a fracture to claimant's hip which, according to the experts, could have occurred within about thirty to sixty days last past. All the doctors agreed that it would take a severe trauma and extreme force to have caused the fracture. One doctor stated in his opinion that a blow to have caused the fracture must have come from 'the direct outer portion of the hip area in the thigh rather than the posterior hip area such as you described as the hip pocket area.' Two of the doctors stated that the muscle spasms which took place at the time of the stoke could have caused the fracture.

The evidence before the Deputy Commissioner was not only sufficient to support a finding that there was no fall occurring or that, if there were one, the fall did not cause the injuries for which compensation is sought. Moreover, the evidence overwhelmingly supported that conclusion. In this connection the findings of fact of the Deputy Commissioner are loosely drawn, but if they are deemed not adequate to support the award, the cause should be remanded with instructions to the Deputy to make adequate findings of fact from the evidence. Ball v. Mann, Fla.1954, 75 So.2d 758. In no event should this Court grope through the record to make findings of fact thereby doing the task which by statute and our decisions is solely that of the Deputy Commissioner. This Court is an appellate court, not a trier of the facts. Laney v. Holbrook, 150 Fla. 622, 8 So.2d 465, 146 A.L.R. 202, especially in certiorari proceedings. See Wilson v. McCoy Mfg. Co., Fla.1954, 69 So.2d 659, 665.

The instant case, on its facts, is squarely within the holding of Four Branches, Inc., v. Oechsner, Fla.1954, 73 So.2d 222. In that case the claimant sought compensation for injuries alleged to have been sustained when the elevator she was operating fell into a pit and landed on its buffer springs. The Deputy Commissioner found that the elevator at the time in question slid fifteen inches below the ground level and came to rest on the buffer springs, without bouncing and without noticeable injury to any one. He found further that there was no accident and, if there were, the injuries complained of did not result therefrom. His denial of the award was affirmed by the full Commission but reversed by the Circuit Court. In reversing the holding of the circuit court and thus affirming the order of the Deputy Commissioner, we observed that there was evidence sufficient to support the findings of facts and that neither the full Commission nor this Court is 'authorized to overthrow that finding thereby merely substituting its view of the evidence for that of the officer charged under the law with the finding duty.'

The claimant urges that this case is within the rule providing that when a serious injury is conclusively shown and a logical cause for it is proven the burden is on the carrier or employer to overcome this proof by showing that another cause of the injury was more logical and consonant with reason. He relies upon such cases as Lyng v. Rao, Fla.1954, 72 So.2d 53; American Airmotive Corp. v. Moore, Fla.1952, 62 So.2d 37; Sanford v. A. P. Clark Motors, Inc.,

Page 150

Fla.1950, 45 So.2d 185. What is overlooked by the claimant is that in these cases the evidence pertaining to the accident and the injuries for which compensation was sought was undisputed. It remained only to determine whether the accepted facts were sufficient in law to justify an award of compensation,-in other words, to determine the legal effect of the conceded facts. For example, in Lyng v. Rao (72 So.2d 54), the claimant while in perfect health was sitting at a typewriter in a room where there was water on the floor. Her feet were wet. There suddenly occurred a tremendous flash of lightning. She became immediately ill and was hospitalized. The evidence in all respects was undisputed. The Deputy Commissioner found that there was 'no testimony whatever of traumatic injury,' but this Court held that he 'fell into error because the effect of his construction of the word 'trauma' limited it to an outwardly visible bodily injury'. We held that the undisputed facts were sufficient to establish a claim because 'the only logical explanation of the cause of the injury was that the claimant was struck by lightning.' And we said, 'Under such circumstances, the burden was on the carrier or employer to overcome this proof by showing that another cause of the injury was more logical and consonant with reason.' Thus in that case we held the deputy erred in applying the law to the facts. The other two cited cases are to the same effect.

In the case of Lyng v. Rao, supra, and the others last cited, there was no dispute about the material facts with reference to whether the accident for which compensation was sought did occur. In the instant case, however, at the very least, there is decided conflict in the evidence-first, as to whether or not there did occur the very accident for which recovery was sought and second, if any accident did occur as to whether the alleged injuries could have resulted therefrom. These conflicts in the evidence presented disputes in material questions of fact which were to be resolved by the Deputy Commissioner and by no other person. He did resolve them. He found no accident causing the injuries complained of. Therefore, the rule urged by claimant has no application. Instead, this case is clearly within the rule that where there is evidence both ways about whether the alleged accident did occur or whether the injuries claimed resulted from an asserted accident, the findings of the Deputy Commissioner are conclusive. Smith v. Packer Display, Inc., Fla.1953, 67 So.2d 323; City Ice & Fuel Division v. Smith, Fla.1952, 56 So.2d 329; Four Branches, Inc., v. Oechsner, supra. In each of these cases the evidence was in conflict either as to whether an accident had occurred or whether a claimed injury resulted from an asserted accident. And, in each case we affirmed the denial of compensation, observing that, while the evidence was in conflict, there was ample evidence to support the Deputy Commissioner's findings of no accident or no injury.

What is presented here is simply a finding by the Deputy Commissioner that there was no accident and, if there were, that the injury...

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31 practice notes
  • Massie v. University of Florida, No. BN-98
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • June 29, 1990
    ...record for facts not explicitly found by the deputy commissioner in order to support the order. Foxworth v. Florida Industrial Commission, 86 So.2d 147 (Fla.1955) (in no event should the court grope through the record to make findings of fact thereby doing the task which by statute and cour......
  • Zundell v. Dade County School Bd., No. 91-1848
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • December 15, 1992
    ...that if the fall was caused by a worker's personal condition, there be evidence of an increased hazard. Foxworth v. Florida Indus. Comm'n, 86 So.2d 147 (Fla.1955). See also Leon County Sch. Bd. v. Grimes, 548 So.2d 205 (Fla.1989); Honeywell, Inc. v. Scully, 289 So.2d 393 (Fla.1974); Souther......
  • Sedgwick CMS v. Valcourt-Williams, No. 1D17-96
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • April 5, 2019
    ...to some increased hazard attendant to the job such as where the fall is onto dangerous objects." Foxworth v. Fla. Indus. Comm'n , 86 So.2d 147, 151 (Fla. 1955) ; see also Duval Cty. Sch. Bd. v. Golly , 867 So.2d 491 (Fla. 1st DCA 2004).The majority incorrectly cites the exception applicable......
  • Brasington Cadillac-Oldsmobile v. Martin, CADILLAC-OLDSMOBILE and C
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • August 11, 1994
    ...Statutes (1991). Southern Bell Teleph. & Telegr. Co. v. McCook, 355 So.2d 1166, 1168 (Fla.1977); Foxworth v. Florida Indust. Comm'n, 86 So.2d 147 (Fla.1955); Bituminous Casualty Corp. v. Richardson, 148 Fla. 323, 4 So.2d 378 (1941); Grenon v. City of Palm Harbor Fire Dist., 634 So.2d 697 (F......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
31 cases
  • Massie v. University of Florida, No. BN-98
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • June 29, 1990
    ...record for facts not explicitly found by the deputy commissioner in order to support the order. Foxworth v. Florida Industrial Commission, 86 So.2d 147 (Fla.1955) (in no event should the court grope through the record to make findings of fact thereby doing the task which by statute and cour......
  • Zundell v. Dade County School Bd., No. 91-1848
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • December 15, 1992
    ...that if the fall was caused by a worker's personal condition, there be evidence of an increased hazard. Foxworth v. Florida Indus. Comm'n, 86 So.2d 147 (Fla.1955). See also Leon County Sch. Bd. v. Grimes, 548 So.2d 205 (Fla.1989); Honeywell, Inc. v. Scully, 289 So.2d 393 (Fla.1974); Souther......
  • Sedgwick CMS v. Valcourt-Williams, No. 1D17-96
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • April 5, 2019
    ...to some increased hazard attendant to the job such as where the fall is onto dangerous objects." Foxworth v. Fla. Indus. Comm'n , 86 So.2d 147, 151 (Fla. 1955) ; see also Duval Cty. Sch. Bd. v. Golly , 867 So.2d 491 (Fla. 1st DCA 2004).The majority incorrectly cites the exception applicable......
  • Brasington Cadillac-Oldsmobile v. Martin, CADILLAC-OLDSMOBILE and C
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • August 11, 1994
    ...Statutes (1991). Southern Bell Teleph. & Telegr. Co. v. McCook, 355 So.2d 1166, 1168 (Fla.1977); Foxworth v. Florida Indust. Comm'n, 86 So.2d 147 (Fla.1955); Bituminous Casualty Corp. v. Richardson, 148 Fla. 323, 4 So.2d 378 (1941); Grenon v. City of Palm Harbor Fire Dist., 634 So.2d 697 (F......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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