Harivel v. Hall-Thompson Co.

Decision Date04 April 1923
Citation98 Conn. 753,120 A. 603
CourtConnecticut Supreme Court

Appeal from Superior Court, Hartford County; George E. Hinman Judge.

Proceedings under the Workmen's Compensation Act (Pub. Acts 1913, c 138) by J. G. Harivel against the Hall-Thompson Company and others. From a judgment sustaining defendants' appeal and vacating an award of the Compensation Commissioner, claimant appeals. Judgment reversed, and cause remanded, with directions to dismiss the appeal and affirm the award.

Conclusions of fact drawn from subordinate facts found by the Industrial Commissioner must stand unless the conclusions are in violation of some rule or principle of law or in conflict with the rules of logic or reason or contrary to or inconsistent with subordinate facts.

Lawrence A. Howard, De Lancey S. Pelgrift, and David R Woodhouse, all of Hartford, for appellant.

Edward J. Myers and Edward W. Broder, both of Hartford, for appellees.


The plaintiff-claimant was a traveling salesman in Richmond, Va., and surrounding territory, and in the employment of the defendant corporation, whose place of business was in Hartford, Conn., upon a contract of employment providing for a payment of a weekly salary and commissions and transportation, hotel bills, etc. His employment required him to stay in hotels in Richmond and the surrounding territory, and he was accordingly staying in the Lexington Hotel in Richmond and occupying a room on the third floor. While there the hotel caught fire at night, and, other avenues of escape being cut off, the claimant attempted to escape by a wire, which broke, causing him to fall and suffer the injury for which he seeks compensation. The Commissioner found in paragraphs 11 and 12 of his finding that at the time of his injury the claimant " was in the course of his employment" and " was exposed, by the nature of his employment, to a greater hazard than the average person in the community, and that the aforesaid injury arose out of the employment."

The trial court held that paragraphs 11 and 12 were findings of ultimate facts, and that the Commissioner erred " in refusing to strike them out and in making an award in favor of the claimant." These paragraphs were conclusions of fact drawn from the subordinate facts found, and, unless the conclusions are " in violation of some rule or principle of law, or in conflict with the rules of logic and reason, or contrary to or inconsistent with the subordinate facts," they must stand. Hayward v. Plant, 98 Conn. 374, 380, 119 A. 341.

Two questions must be answered:

(1) Was the claimant in the course of his employment at the time of his injury? He was if it occurred within the period of his employment, at a place where he might reasonably be, and while he was reasonably fulfilling the duties of his employment, or engaged in doing something incidental to it. Larke v. Hancock Mutual Life Ins. Co., 90 Conn. 308, 97 A. 320, L.R.A. 1916E, 584. His employment was continuous, covering the period from the time he left the East until he returned. It did not cease at night when he finished his work. He did not then go to his home, or to a place which he himself provided as a temporary abiding place, but he went to the hotel for lodgings and board which his employer provided. While he was on the way from the East to Richmond to reach the territory in which he should sell the goods of the defendant, he must be held to have been in the course of his employment. His salary covered this period, and his expenses were all paid by his employer. His employment began when he started upon his trip. If he departed from the employment, which required him to reach Richmond by continuous travel reasonably taken, and undertook some business, convenience, or pleasure of his own, he would not for such period be in the course of his employment; otherwise he would. The salesman injured upon the premises of a customer is then in the course of his employment, but no more so than if he had been on his way to or from the customer and for the purposes of the employment. Whatever form of conveyance the salesman is reasonably required to use for the purposes of his employment, whether going to it, boarding it, riding in it, or leaving it, he will be deemed to be in the course of his employment; for during this period he was under employment and at a place where he might reasonably be and while he was reasonably fulfilling the duties of his employment. As a rule the authorities are in agreement upon this conclusion. Moran's Case, 234 Mass. 566, 125 N.E. 591; U.S. Casualty Co. v. Superior Hardware Co., 175 Wis. 162, 184 N.W. 694; Stansberry v. Monitor Stove Co., 150 Minn. 1, 183 N.W. 977, 20 A.L.R. 316; Haddock v. Edgewater Steel Co., 263 Pa. 120, 106 A. 196; Chase v. Emery Mfg. Co., 271 Pa. 265, 113 A. 840.

If the salesman lodged and boarded on the premises of his employer, it would be conceded that his employment continued during this period. There can be no difference in principle between the furnishing of lodging and board by the employer upon his own premises or upon the premises of another. The hotel lodging furnished by the defendant to the claimant was its own for the time being, which it supplied to its salesman. The salesman was not, when injured, engaged upon the immediate duties of his employment, but he was doing something which was incidental to such employment. The servant in a household when asleep is not then engaged upon her employment, but she is doing something incident to it. Her employer provides her with means of rest and preparation for the next day's work. Whether he provides this in his home or in an adjoining hotel is immaterial. She is in his employ during the period of rest, whichever place it be passed in, for her employment is a continuous one. Between the salesman whose lodging and board is paid for by the employer and the servant who is treated in the same way there is no substantial difference, except that in the extent of the time of work and in the intensity and quality of the work the work of the salesman ordinarily surpasses that of the servant.

(2) Did the injury to the claimant arise out of his employment as a salesman? In Marchiatello v. Lynch Realty Co., 94 Conn. 260, 108 A. 799, we state our rule for determining this with as much definiteness as the subject will admit of:

" An injury arises out of an employment

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