Gluck Bros., Inc. v. Pollard

Decision Date29 March 1968
Citation25 McCanless 383,221 Tenn. 383,426 S.W.2d 763
Parties, 221 Tenn. 383 GLUCK BROTHERS, INC., Plaintiff in Error, v. Emory H. POLLARD, Defendant in Error.
CourtTennessee Supreme Court

Joe A. Tilson, Morristown, for plaintiff in error.

Sidney W. Gilreath, Knoxville, for defendant in error.


CRESON, Justice.

This is an appeal by the employer in a workmen's compensation proceeding, from an adverse judgment rendered in the Circuit Court of Hamblen County, Tennessee. This appeal involves three aspects of the Workmen's Compensation Act: (1) Causal connection between the employment and the ultimate condition of petitioner, T.C.A. § 50--902(d); (2) Statute of limitations, T.C.A. § 50--1003; and (3) Notice, T.C.A. § 50--1001.

The parties will be referred to herein as they appeared in the lower court; that is, plaintiff in error Gluck Brothers, Inc. as defendant, and defendant in error Emory H. Pollard as petitioner.

It appears from the record that the petitioner had been employed by the defendant since at least October, 1961. On December 15, 1962, while performing his duties of firing a boiler, the boiler backfired. He sustained burns to his eyes, lids, lashes, and surrounding tissues. The defendant employer had him taken to a Knoxville ophthalmologist. An examination was made and treatment administered. The ophthalmologist saw the petitioner on two subsequent occasions and released him to return to work on December 26, 1962. The petitioner did return to work on December 28, 1962, and worked continually for the defendant until September 6, 1965.

The petitioner testified that he had continuous headaches from the date of the accident to the present. On September 13, 1965, the petitioner's doctor referred him to a Knoxville neurologist; because of the former's inability to ascertain the cause of the headaches. Petitioner entered the University of Tennessee Hospital for a week, where he was examined by a neurologist, and others on the hospital staff. The neurologist could find no organic cause for the headaches, and recommended that the petitioner be institutionalized in the state mental hospital.

The petitioner entered the Eastern State Hospital on October 26, 1965. He underwent a complete examination, and his mental condition was diagnosed as 'schizophrenic reaction, chronic undifferentiated type.' That same day, the petitioner's employment was formally terminated by the defendant. Petitioner remained in Eastern State Hospital until March 23, 1966. He was readmitted on May 20, 1966, and was finally discharged on July 1, 1966. The present suit was filed on October 14, 1966.

There is no question but that the accident and injuries to the eyes were within the scope of workmen's compensation coverage; nor is there any doubt of the employer's notice of this and assumption of treatment. The defendant's primary contention is that there is no material evidence to causally connect the psychiatric condition with the 1962 accident to justify a recovery under the Workmen's Compensation statutes for the mental condition.

The trial judge held that the ultimate disabling psychiatric condition was causally related to the 1962 boiler explosion. Our review of the case is limited by statute to a determination of whether or not findings of the trial court are supported by any material evidence. T.C.A. § 50--1018 and cases cited.

A licensed psychiatrist examined the petitioner, on his own behalf, on March 4, 1967. Based on the findings made from her examination, she testified that (1) the boiler explosion produced the trauma which caused the continuous psychological headaches; (2) the petitioner was somewhat mentally retarded and possessed a schizoid personality, which grew into a full-blown psychosis as a result of the trauma of the boiler accident and the subsequent psychological headaches; and (3) the psychosis disabled the petitioner and prevented him from continuing in his normal line of work, and presently continues to do so.

The defendant introduced medical testimony to the effect that there was no causal connection between the boiler incident and the subsequent mental deterioration. It is clear that the defendant and its counsel feel much aggrieved by the finding of the trial court in this regard. If it would be of any consequence, we would say, without hesitancy, that we disagree with the factual conclusion reached by the trial judge. However, under the law of this State, it makes no difference whether or not, as trial judges, we would have decided the case differently from the result reached by the trial judge who did try the case. We simply cannot say that there is no material evidence that the casualty which occurred did either cause, contribute to, or exacerbate the condition in which the petitioner is shown to be at or prior to the filing of suit in this cause. This, even though we are convinced that the testimony of the psychiatrist for the petitioner does little credit to the idea that the practice of psychiatry is now recognized to embody the knowledge and application of medical science.

In addition to the primary contention, the defendant objected to the trial court's (1) allowing the petitioner to testify, and (2) accepting the psychiatrist's testimony, admittedly based primarily on an interview with the petitioner. These assignments of error raise the issue of whether or not the petitioner was incompetent to testify or to relate history and information to his psychiatrist because of his defective mental condition. This Court considered the basics of this question in Turner v. Bell (1955) 198 Tenn. 232, 279 S.W.2d 71, and held:

'(15) Although a person has been declared insane this does not conclusively render such person incompetent as a witness. 70 C.J. 96, Witnesses, Sec. 123; 58 Am.Jur. p. 92, Sec. 118, p. 94, Witnesses, Sec. 121; Wigmore on Evidence, 3d Ed., Vol. II, Sec. 492, p. 583.

The general rule as laid down in 58 Am.Jur. p. 92, Sec. 118, is as follows:

'118. Generally--Owing to imperfect understanding of the nature of insanity, its many forms and varying effects, it was considered at common law that every insane person was wholly and absolutely non compos mentis and incompetent to testify. And the statement was broadly made in a number of American cases, most of which were decided in the first half of the nineteenth century, that insane persons and idiots were not competent witnesses. But in more recent times, the courts, keeping pace with the progress of science, have greatly relaxed the rigor of that rule and now agree that a lunatic or a person affected with insanity is competent as a witness if, at the time he is offered as a witness, he has sufficient understanding to apprehend the obligation of an oath, and to be capable of giving a correct account of the matters which he has seen or heard in reference to...

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11 cases
  • McCall v. National Health Corporation, No. M2004-00261-WC-R3-CV (Tenn. Sp. Workers Comp. 11/3/2006), M2004-00261-WC-R3-CV.
    • United States
    • Tennessee Supreme Court — Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel
    • 3 Noviembre 2006
    ...the Court recognized that there could be recovery for traumatic neurosis resulting from a back injury. In Gluck Brothers, Inc. v. Pollard, 221 Tenn. 383, 426 S.W.2d 763 (1968) the Court found sufficient evidence of a causal connection between a mental condition and an industrial accident wh......
  • McCaleb v. Saturn Corp.
    • United States
    • Tennessee Supreme Court
    • 2 Noviembre 1995
    ...of the requirement, and (3) the excuse or inability of the employee to timely notify the employer. See Gluck Brothers, Inc. v. Pollard, 221 Tenn. 383, 426 S.W.2d 763 (1968). Delay in asserting a compensable claim is reasonable and justified if the employee has limited understanding of his c......
  • Hill v. Eagle Bend Mfg., Inc.
    • United States
    • Tennessee Supreme Court
    • 7 Abril 1997
    ...Companies, 874 S.W.2d 566, 570 (Tenn.1994); Thomas v. Aetna Life & Cas. Co., 812 S.W.2d 278, 284 (Tenn.1991); Gluck Brothers, Inc. v. Pollard, 221 Tenn. 383, 426 S.W.2d 763 (1968); Minton v. Leonard, 219 Tenn. 642, 412 S.W.2d 886 (1967). In this case, Hill suffered a work-related injury on ......
  • Moon v. Auto-Owners Ins. Co.
    • United States
    • Tennessee Supreme Court
    • 8 Septiembre 1987
    ...that written notice has been given and concluded that such was not required. The decision of this Court in Gluck Brothers, Inc. v. Pollard, 221 Tenn. 383, 426 S.W.2d 763, 766 (1968), contains a statement that the defendant received no written notice until served with process, perhaps implyi......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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