Miller v. Bingham County, 8518

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Idaho
Writing for the CourtSMITH; McQUADE, Justice, with whom KEETON
Citation79 Idaho 87,310 P.2d 1089
PartiesMervin H. MILLER, Claimant-Respondent, v. BINGHAM COUNTY, State of Idaho, Employer, and State Insurance Fund, Surety, Defendants-Appellants.
Docket NumberNo. 8518,8518
Decision Date02 May 1957

Page 1089

310 P.2d 1089
79 Idaho 87
Mervin H. MILLER, Claimant-Respondent,
BINGHAM COUNTY, State of Idaho, Employer, and State Insurance Fund, Surety, Defendants-Appellants.
No. 8518.
Supreme Court of Idaho.
May 2, 1957.
Rehearing Denied May 27, 1957.

[79 Idaho 88]

Page 1090

Graydon W. Smith, Atty. Gen., Glenn A. Coughlan, Asst. Atty. Gen., for appellants.

[79 Idaho 89] Anderson & Beebe, Blackfoot, for respondent.

SMITH, Justice.

It is admitted that respondent on March 25, 1955, at the time of the happening of the event hereinafter described, was engaged in the duties of his employment; also, that some eight hours afterward he evidenced a personal injury which had resulted in violence to the physical structure of his body, in that he had suffered a hemorrhage of a branch of an artery supplying the right cortex of his brain, which produced complete and permanent paralysis of his left arm and left leg.

Respondent, as weed control supervisor of appellant Bingham County, with headquarters at Blackfoot, after attendance to duties pertaining to his employment at Boise, was returning to Blackfoot in a motor vehicle furnished him by his employer. When he had reached a point on the highway[79 Idaho 90] near King Hill he was subjected to an event in respect to which the Industrial Accident Board found, in accordance with the evidence, as follows:

'Claimant * * * was suddenly and without warning involved in a near collision with another vehicle traveling in the same direction; said other vehicle swerved into the path of claimant's vehicle while said claimant was lawfully attempting to overtake and pass said other vehicle; by sudden and full application of brakes and swerving his vehicle; claimant avoided and narrowly missed striking said other vehicle by a margin of approximately four feet and while both automobiles were traveling at a rate of speed estimated to be fifty miles per hour; said other vehicle, containing several small children, never stopped.'

Appellants by their assignments of error contend that the Board erroneously found that respondent received a personal injury caused by an accident arising out of and in the course of his employment.

I.C. sec. 72-201 provides in part:

"Accident,' as used in this law, means an unexpected, undesigned, and unlooked for mishap, or untoward event, happening suddenly and connected with the industry in which it occurs, and which can be definitely located as to time when and place where it occurred, causing an injury, as defined in this law.' (Emphasis supplied.)

'The terms 'injury' and 'personal injury,' as the same are used in this law, shall be construed to include only an injury caused by an accident, as above defined, which results in violence to the physical structure of the body. * * *.'

Page 1091

The described event fulfills certain of the requirements of the statutory definition of an accident, since it was unexpected, undesigned, unlooked for and unforeseen; it happened suddenly, and was connected with the industry, and was definitely located as to time and place where it occurred. However, a further statutory requirement must be met, i. e., such event, to constitute an accident within the purview of the workmen's compensation law, must have caused the personal injury.

The question then, which must be answered is,--did the described event cause respondent's personal injury? I.C. see. 72-201. The question requires a review of the evidence since it presents the matter of the sufficiency of the evidence to sustain the finding of the Industrial Accident Board. The Board found:

'Claimant, as a direct and proximate result of said sudden, unexpected and unforseen incident and episode, was immediately and seriously frightened and shocked thereby; which said fright and shock was immediately manifested in [79 Idaho 91] claimant by a feeling of weakness, involuntary shaking, chilliness, nausea, the inability except with difficulty to gather his thoughts, and an immediate numbness in his head. These manifestations continued thereafter with somewhat lessening degree until retirement the same evening, but never entirely left him. Several hours after the incident and episode above described and before his retirement, claimant manifested paleness and an extremely tired appearance; he suffered a loss of appetite and experienced a definite difficulty of articulation or a slurring of his speech.

'Upon the happening of said accident, or some time during the period thereafter to about 6:00 A.M., on March 26, 1955, claimant suffered a cerebral vascular accident diagnosed as and found to be a hemorrhage of a branch of the arteries of the brain in the right cerebral cortex, which produced in claimant a complete and permanent paralysis of the left arm and left leg.

'The immediate, direct and precipitating cause of said cerebral vascular accident was the sudden, frightening, unexpected, undesigned and unlooked for accident of the afternoon of March 25, 1955, and the emotional strain, anxiety and nervous tension produced in claimant by the happening thereof; the shock to claimant's nervous system, which in turn caused the cerebral vascular accident, was sufficiently violent to and did produce the injury to the physical structure of claimant's body as hereinbefore found.'

Respondent was diagnosed as having suffered a cerebral vascular accident with paralysis on the left side of his body which included his left arm and left leg. The event of the untoward frightening experience to which respondent was subject in the near automobile collision was related hypothetically to Dr. Hoge, one of respondent's attending physicians; his testimony on direct examination appears:

'Q. Do you have an opinion as to whether or not that sudden incident which has been related to you caused or probably caused this cerebral vascular accident? A. Well, it certainly could have, and in my opinion, did. * * *

* * *

* * *

'A. I will say that many strokes follow emotional upsets and sometimes not immediately but hours after and days after.'

On cross examination Dr. Hoge testified:

'A. * * * The most likely diagnosis, that is, type of cerebral vascular accident, would be cerebral hemorrhage, or what they commonly call stroke or apoplexy.

* * *

* * *

[79 Idaho 92] 'A. In my experience most of them come after extreme exertion, physical exertion, or excitement, or anxiety.

* * *

* * *

Page 1092

'Q. Doctor, is to the condition the same in a strain from physical exertion as it is from a sudden fright?

* * *

* * *

'A. Well, the heart puts more pressure on the blood vessels in either instance.

'Q. So that they would be comparable, would they not? A. Comparable.

* * *

* * *

'A. * * * in just a few minutes of increased pressure you can get an artery to blow out and leak for hours and hours and hours afterwards, just a little one, maybe.

* * *

* * *

'A. * * * There may have been preexisting weakness in the vessel. However, an emotional upset would cause an increase of pressure within the vessel and also cause spasm and dilation of the vessel and would predispose to either a stroke or thrombosis. * * *.'

Dr. Anderson, appellant's remaining attending physician, testified on direct examination on the basis of the evidence hypothetically stated, including the history of the case which the doctor obtained. His testimony appears in part:

'Q. * * * Do you have an opinion as to what was the probable cause of this stroke? A. * * * It is my opinion that a good probability exists that the progression of the symptoms which finally became recognized as a stroke began shortly after the near accident on the road. * * *

* * *

* * *

'A. * * * there have been many observations in medical experience where an individual who is predisposed to a cerebal vascular accident seems to have the accident occur during periods of severe physical fatigue or severe emotional fatigue or a severe emotional upset or even less defined words or events. Those things have occurred with sufficient regularity for many neurologists and practitioners to be of the opinion that in predisposed individuals physical and emotional fatigue and physical and emotional strain can be precipitating events, and in my own experience, I have seen a number of cases in which such factors were present at the time of the incident.

'Q. And those factors, are they a probability in this case? A. They are a probability.'

The doctor then further stated that in his opinion the hemorrhage probably had occurred before respondent went to sleep the evening of March 25, 1955, after having experienced the untoward frightening experience[79 Idaho 93] during the afternoon of that day. Nothing was elicited from the doctor on cross examination which conflicted with his theories expressed on direct examination.

Dr. Howard, called by appellants, on direct examination stated that he could not make a positive statement as to whether there was a causal connection between respondent's stroke and the emotional strain. However, he recognized the medical theories of such causal connection. On cross examination the doctor testified more positively:

'Q. Then * * * you recognize that there can be a relationship between emotional strain, anxiety, tension, and the happening of a stroke? A. Well, there certainly can be, yes. * * *

* * *

* * *

'Q. * * * emotional strain and anxiety can be a precipitating cause? A. I certainly think so, yes. I certainly agree with that.'

Dr. Blackburn called by appellants testified hypothetically on direct examination, that in his opinion there was no reasonable factual connection between rspondent's experience on the highway and the subsequent stroke. On cross examination, however, Dr. Blackburn recognized the medical theory as did the other physicians, as follows:

'Q. It is a well-recognized fact * * * that such things as excitement,

Page 1093

confusion, restlessness, anxiety and emotional strain can produce a cerebral vascular accident such...

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