In re Marshall

Decision Date31 January 1947
Docket Number17580.
Citation70 N.E.2d 772,117 Ind.App. 203
PartiesIn re MARSHALL et al.
CourtIndiana Appellate Court

Children Out-Of-Wedlock 1

76H ----

Proceedings under the Workmen's Compensation Act by Anna Mae Marshall and others, claimants. On questions certified to the Appellee Court by the Industrial Board.

Questions answered.

Cleon H. Foust, Deputy Atty. Gen., for Industrial Board.

James V. Donadio and R. Stanley Lawton, both of Indianapolis, for claimants.

Ross McCord Ice & Miller, of Indianapolis, amicus curiae.

DRAPER Judge.

Under Section 61 of the Workmen's Compensation Act (Burns 1940 Repl., § 40-1512) the Industrial Board certifies to this court the following facts and the following questions for our decision and determination:

'On January 30, 1946, Lucien Henry Marshall died under circumstances entitling his dependents to workmen's compensation at the rate of Twenty Dollars and Seven and one-half Cents ($20.07 1/2) per week. The following persons claim as dependents:

'(a) Anna Mae Marshall, who married the decedent in 1941 and lived and was supported by him continuously until the time of his death.

'(b) Lucien Henry Marshall, Jr., a child of the decedent and Anna Mae Marshall, born in 1937 and prior to their marriage. Decedent, at all times, acknowledged Lucien Henry Marshall Jr., as his son both before and after his marriage to Anna Mae Marshall and was supporting this child at the time of his death.

'(c) Bobby Jean Osborne, known also as Bobby Jean Marshall, an illegitimate child of Anna Mae Marshall, born in February, 1935. The decedent was not the father of Bobby Jean Osborne and at no time acknowledged this child as his own either before or after his marriage to Anna Mae Marshall. At the time of his death, and at all times subsequent to his marriage to Anna Mae Marshall in 1941, Bobby Jean Osborne was living in decedent's home and was totally dependent upon him in fact. The decedent did not at time adopt Bobby Jean Osborne as his child. Bobby Jean Osborne was not a legal heir of the decedent under the laws of descent of the State of Indiana.

'Lucien Henry Marshall, Jr., decedent's child, and Anna Mae Marshall, decedent's wife, constituted all of decedent's legal heirs.'

'Question I. Should an award granting compensation provide for Anna Mae Marshall, Lucien Henry Marshall, Jr. and Bobby Jean Osborne taking compensation in equal shares as total dependents in accordance with the language of Section 38 or should Bobby Jean Osborne, although a dependent in fact of the decedent, be completely excluded from compensation by reason of her not being an heir of the decedent under the laws of descent of the State of Indiana and so not within the class entitled to share in compensation under the provisions of Section 37 or the Workmen's Compensation Act as amended.

'Question II. Does the language of Section 37 of the Workmen's Compensation Act as amended in 1945 preclude Bobby Jean Osborne or other persons from obtaining awards of compensation as total dependents in fact who are not heirs of the decedent under the laws of descent of the State of Indiana.'

Under Burns 1933, § 6-2310, Lucien Henry Marshall, Jr., is a legitimate child of the deceased employee.

As enacted in 1929, §§ 37 and 38 of the Act read as follows:

'Sec. 37. When death results from an injury within three hundred [300] weeks, there shall be paid a weekly compensation equal to fifty-five [55] per cent of the deceased's average weekly wages during such remaining part of three hundred [300] weeks as compensation shall not have been paid to the deceased on account of the injury, in equal shares to all dependents of the employee wholly dependent upon him for support at the time of his death. If the employee leaves dependents only partially dependent upon his earnings for support at the time of his injury the weekly compensation to those so dependent shall be in the same proportion to the weekly compensation of persons wholly dependent as the average amount contributed weekly by the deceased to such partial dependent bears to his average weekly wages at the time of the injury.' (Burns 1940 Repl. § 40-1402.)

'Sec. 38. The following persons shall be conclusively presumed to be wholly dependent for support upon a deceased employee:

(a) A wife * * *.

'(b) A husband, * * *.

'(c) A child * * *.

'As used in this section, the term 'child' shall include stepchildren, legally adopted children, posthumous children and acknowledged illegitimate children, but shall not include married children; the term 'parent' shall include step-parents and parents by adoption.

'In all other cases, question of total dependency shall be determined in accordance with the fact, as the fact may be at the time of the death, and (the) question of partial dependency shall be determined in like manner as of date of the injury. If there is more than one [1] person wholly dependent, the death benefit shall be divided equally among them; and persons partially dependent shall receive no part thereof.

'If there is no one wholly dependent and more than one [1] person partially dependent, the death benefit shall be divided among the partial dependents according to the relative extent of their dependency. * * *.' (Burns 1940 Repl. § 40-1403.) (Our emphasis.)

While Bobby Jean Osborne can not be considered as a stepchild of the deceased, Thornburg v. American Strawboard Co., 1895, 141 Ind. 443, 40 N.E. 1062, 50 Am.St.Rep. 334, so as to be conclusively presumed to have been wholly dependent upon him for support under § 38 of the Act, she was nevertheless wholly dependent in fact.

Under §§ 37 and 38 as above written, benefits under the Act were available in equal shares to every person wholly dependent in fact regardless of relationship or other considerations. Those closest and dearest to a man were sometimes required to share the benefits of the Act equally with comparative strangers, and the greater the man's generosity in life, when able to work and produce a much larger income than that afforded under the Act, the greater the dilution of the comparatively meager benefits.

The grevious results possible under the law as it then stood became the more apparent when, in 1943, in Russell v Johnson, 220 Ind. 649, 47 N.E.2d 219, our Supreme Court, reversing in part our decision in the same case in 112 Ind.App. 253, 42 N.E.2d 392, held that a woman, dependent in fact upon a man with whom she was living in adultery, was entitled to compensation regardless of the fact that the dependency was embarrassed by her illicit and illegal relationship to the deceased; and the court later approvingly alluded to that decision in Cole v. Sheehan Construction Co., 1944, 222 Ind. 274, 53 N.E.2d 172. It was apparent that one effect of that holding, carried to...

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1 cases
  • In re Marshall
    • United States
    • Indiana Appellate Court
    • 31 janvier 1947

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