Le Lenko v. Wilson H. Lee Co.

Decision Date14 January 1942
Citation128 Conn. 499,24 A.2d 253
CourtConnecticut Supreme Court
PartiesLE LENKO v. WILSON H. LEE CO. et al.

Appeal from Superior Court, New Haven County; King, Judge.

Proceeding under the Workmen's Compensation Act by Michael LeLenko, claimant, opposed by the Wilson H. Lee Company, employer, and others. The proceeding was brought to the superior court. From a judgment dismissing appeal and affirming a finding and award of the compensation commissioner for the third district in favor of the claimant, the employer and others appeal.

No error.


William F. Healey, of Derby, for appellants.

Charles Henchel, of New Haven, for appellee.

MALTBIE, Chief Justice.

The plaintiff is a linotype operator. After serving an apprenticeship, he had worked at his trade more than three and one-half years when he entered the employ of the named defendant, hereafter referred to as the defendant. After working a few months, he developed, in July, 1939, a dermatitis. He continued his employment until October 26th following, but then became incapacitated and now claims workmen's compensation. The commissioner made an award in his favor; the defendant and his insurer appealed but the Superior Court dismissed the appeal; and from that judgment they have appealed to this court. The question is whether the dermatitis which caused the plaintiff's incapacity is an occupational disease which arose out of and in the course of his employment.

The commissioner made an extensive finding and the defendants sought numerous corrections in it. The Superior Court made two additions. The other corrections sought would not, except as hereafter noted, affect the result. We shall state such facts as are necessary to make clear the basis of our decision, incorporating one other correction justified by the evidence. After the plaintiff left his employment on October 26, 1939, he was in a hospital for two weeks and thereafter received medical treatment. On December 29, 1939, the dermatitis had cleared up. About two weeks later, seeking re-employment, he went to the defendant's plant, stayed in the shop fifteen to twenty minutes, and on the following day noticed a slight redness indicating a recurrence of the dermatitis. About a week and a half later he again returned to the plant and stayed over an hour, and the next day blisters appeared on the palms of his hands, a condition which shortly cleared up. He then secured in another plant the same kind of work he had been doing for the defendant, but the dermatitis returned and after three and one-half days he was forced to quit. Linotype machines require a melted lead alloy, from which the type is made. At the defendant's plant pots electrically heated are used in connection with the machines to melt the metal. There is no apparatus for removing any fumes that may result. The pots are completely closed except where the metal is put in. The plaintiff had to open the one attached to his machine for this purpose, and at times when readjustment was necessary; and he also at times handled sticks of type which had not cooled.

After the first hearing before the commissioner, the plaintiff's physician, having learned that one of the elements in the lead alloy was antimony and knowing from medical literature that this metal had been found to cause dermatitis in certain workers when used in melting pots in printing establishments, tested the plaintiff twice by exposing his arm to the fumes of antimony melted in a test tube, and in both instances positive reactions occurred. At a further stage in the hearings it was agreed that as a test the plaintiff should return to work at the defendant's plant for a day and this he did. At the time he entered the plant he was found to have no evidence of any dermatitis, but there followed a recurrence of it in certain parts of his body. The commissioner concluded that it was reasonably probable that the dermatitis was due to fumes volatilized from the melting antimony and to the hot type he handled, and that the resulting incapacity arose out of and in the course of his employment. These were conclusions he could reasonably reach. It is true that the plaintiff's physician did not definitely state it as his opinion that fumes from the melting antimony did cause the dermatitis, but even in the absence of such testimony we cannot say that the commissioner could not reasonably conclude from the physician's testimony and the other facts before him that it did. Barry v. Miller, 104 Conn. 362, 364, 133 A. 37.

It remains to consider whether the dermatitis was an occupational disease. Dermatitis of the kind from which the plaintiff suffered results from the sensitivity of an individual to a certain irritant, either solid, liquid or volatile; some people suffer from such an irritant following only a few contacts, while some acquire the disease after many years of contact; some irritants affect a much higher percentage of persons coming in contact with them than do others; and some are harmful only under certain circumstances. There had been no other case of dermatitis in the plant of the defendant, a large plant which had been operating many years; none of the physicians who testified had had any experience with dermatitis among linotypers, although some of them were specialists in this type of disease, and medical literature discloses few such cases. The dermatitis of the plaintiff was due to his individual susceptibility, to an unusual degree, to the fumes of the antimony. Our Compensation Act provides that the words "personal injury" or "injury" as used in it are to be construed to include...

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46 cases
  • Booker v. Duke Medical Center
    • United States
    • North Carolina Supreme Court
    • July 12, 1979
    ...the ordinary hazards of employment as such." (Current version at Conn.Gen.Stat.Ann. 31-275 (West 1972)). In LeLenko v. Wilson H. Lee Co., 128 Conn. 499, 503, 24 A.2d 253, 255 (1942) that statute was construed as "The phrase, 'peculiar to the occupation,' is not here used in the sense that t......
  • Bowman v. Twin Falls Const. Co., Inc.
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court
    • June 21, 1978
    ...would require an abandonment of the employment or a change in its conditions to obviate the risk. LeLenko v. Wilson H. Lee Co., 128 Conn. 499, 504, 24 A.2d 253, 256 (1942). Similarly, one cannot interpret the phrase "peculiar to the occupation," to mean diseases which are not otherwise foun......
  • Evinger v. Thompson
    • United States
    • Missouri Supreme Court
    • March 8, 1954
    ...this principle when the certain fact of imminent danger to a percentage is established.' It was likewise held in LeLenko v. Wilson H. Lee Co., 128 Conn. 499, 24 A.2d 253, (a Workmen's Compensation case) that an occupational disease need not be a usual and generally recognized incident of th......
  • Estate of Doe v. Department of Correction, 268 Conn. 753 (CT 5/11/2004)
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • May 11, 2004
    ...found that HIV is not an occupational disease for that profession. We rejected this argument as early as 1942 in LeLenko v. Wilson H. Lee Co., 128 Conn. 499, 24 A.2d 253 (1942). In that case, this court concluded that "[o]ccupational diseases result ordinarily in incapacity in a relatively ......
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