Hunt v. U.S. Steel Corp.

Decision Date10 January 1963
Docket Number6 Div. 797
Citation274 Ala. 328,148 So.2d 618
PartiesRachel HUNT v. UNITED STATES STEEL CORPORATION.
CourtAlabama Supreme Court

W. H. Collier, Jr., Birmingham, for appellant.

J. R. Forman, Jr., and K. K. Howell, Birmingham, for appellee.

LAWSON, Justice.

This is a Workmen's Compensation Case wherein the sole question for decision is whether death benefits must be paid on behalf of the illegitimate children of a male employee.

That question was answered in the negative by the trial court. We agree.

In Sloss-Sheffield Steel & Iron Co. v. Watford, 245 Ala. 425, 17 So.2d 166, the trial court awarded compensation to the 'widow' of the deceased workman for herself and for the seven children of the 'marriage.' On appeal to this court we held that the woman involved was not in fact the widow of the deceased workman. We reversed the judgment of the trial court and rendered a judgment for the defendant, thus denying benefits not only to the woman but to the illegitimate children which she had borne as a result of her illicit relationship with the deceased workman. However, the opinion in the Watford case did not discuss the claim of the illegitimate children.

Section 283, Title 26, Code 1940, as amended, sets forth the persons who are entitled to benefits upon the death of a workman. It also provides the order in which those persons are entitled to benefits and the percentage of the deceased workman's weekly average earnings to which they are entitled. That section provides for benefits to be paid to or for a 'child' or 'children' under certain circumstances and benefits are payable to no other class of dependents into which it could conceivably be argued illegitimate children fall. The words 'child' or 'children' are not modified by the word 'illegitimate.'

In Section 262, Title 26, Code 1940, as amended, the words 'child' or 'children' aredefined thusly:

'(b) 'Child' or 'children' include posthumous children and all other children entitled by law to inherit as children of the deceased, also stepchildren who were members of the family of the deceased, at the time of the accident, and dependent upon him for support, also a grandchild of the deceased employee, whose father is dead or is an invalid, and who was supported by, and a member of the family of, such deceased grandparent at the time of the accident.' (Emphasis supplied.)

It seems clear to us that illegitimate children of a deceased male employee are not included in the above definition inasmuch as illegitimate children do not inherit from their father under the law of this state. Moore v. Terry, 220 Ala. 47, 124 So. 80; Williams v. Witherspoon, 171 Ala. 559, 55 So. 132. See Hudson v. Reed, 259 Ala. 340, 66 So.2d 909.

It is the settled rule in this state, as elsewhere, that the words 'child' or 'children' when used in a statute do not include illegitimate children unless the context requires a different meaning. Williams v. Witherspoon, supra; Tillery v. Tillery, 155 Ala. 495, 46 So. 582. See Murrell v. Industrial Commission, 291 Ill. 334, 126 N.E. 189; Miller v. Industrial Commission of Ohio, 165 Ohio St. 584, 138 N.E.2d 672.

There are cases from other jurisdictions, including Portin v. Portin, 149 Tenn. 530, 261 S.W. 362, cited and relied upon by appellant, in which illegitimate children have been held entitled to the benefits of Workmen's Compensation acts, but the decisions have been based on statutes which expressly cover all illegitimate children or statutes which make the matter of dependency the controlling factor.

But all illegitimate children are not expressly included in the coverage afforded by our statutes and the right to compensation under our statutes does not rest upon dependency alone. There must be the existence of the relationship specified in the statute.

If...

To continue reading

Request your trial
4 cases
  • Everage v. Gibson
    • United States
    • Alabama Supreme Court
    • June 1, 1979
    ...to mean "legitimate children." Williams v. Witherspoon, 171 Ala. 559, 55 So. 132 (1911); see, also, Hunt v. United States Steel Corp., 274 Ala. 328, 148 So.2d 618 (1963). Therefore, while illegitimate children of female intestates are provided for, illegitimate, unlike legitimate, children ......
  • Browning v. City of Huntsville
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Civil Appeals
    • February 3, 1971
    ...Act does not rest upon dependency alone but there must also exist the relationship specified in the statute. Hunt v. U.S. Steel Corp., 274 Ala. 328, 148 So.2d 618; Sloss-Sheffield Steel & Iron Co. v. Watford, 245 Ala. 425, 17 So.2d 166 (1944); Talley v. A & M Construction Co., 284 Ala. 371,......
  • Foy v. Vann
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Civil Appeals
    • October 31, 1979
    ...Court of Alabama expressly held that death benefits may not be paid to illegitimate children of a male employee. Hunt v. U. S. Steel Corp., 274 Ala. 328, 148 So.2d 618 (1963). Mr. Justice Lawson therein requoted the settled rule that the words "child" or "children" when used in a statute do......
  • Talley v. A & M Const. Co.
    • United States
    • Alabama Supreme Court
    • June 26, 1969
    ...Workmen's Compensation case when, in fact, the purported 'widow' was not the legal widow of the deceased worker. Hunt v. United States Steel Corp., 274 Ala. 328, 148 So.2d 618; Sloss-Sheffield Steel & Iron Co. v. Watford, 245 Ala. 425, 17 So.2d 166. The trial court based its decision on, an......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT