Nulf v. Browne-Morse

Decision Date27 February 1978
Docket NumberBROWNE-MORSE,No. 60021,60021
Citation262 N.W.2d 664,402 Mich. 309
PartiesDan NULF, Plaintiff-Appellee, v.COMPANY and American Mutual Liability Company, Defendants-Appellees, and Second Injury Fund, Defendant-Appellant. 402 Mich. 309, 262 N.W.2d 664
CourtMichigan Supreme Court

Cholette, Perkins & Buchanan, Grand Rapids (Edward D. Wells, Grand Rapids, of counsel), for defendants Browne-Morse Co. and American Mut. Liability Co. Frank J. Kelley, Atty. Gen., Robert A. Derengoski, Sol. Gen., and Eileen D. Zielesch, Asst. Atty. Gen., Detroit, for defendant Second Injury Fund.

PER CURIAM.

In 1967 plaintiff developed bilateral cataracts from causes unrelated to his employment as a forklift driver with defendant Browne-Morse Company. As a result of those cataracts, the natural lens of each eye was surgically removed. The surgical removal of the natural lenses left plaintiff with less than 20% Of normal vision in each eye. The use of corrective lenses restored the vision in plaintiff's left eye to greater than 20% Of normal vision; however, the use of such lenses failed to restore the vision in the right eye to greater than 20% Of normal vision. The corrective lenses not only enabled plaintiff to return to his job as a forklift driver for defendant employer, but also enabled plaintiff to drive his own truck and motorcycle on the public highways.

In 1971 plaintiff was struck by a board in the area of the left eye while he was engaged in activities arising out of and in the course of his employment with defendant employer. As a result of that accident, plaintiff suffered a total loss of vision in the left eye and a further loss of vision in the right eye. Medical evidence established that there is no likelihood of improvement of the vision in either eye.

Defendant employer and its insurer voluntarily paid the specific loss benefits for the loss of vision of the left eye in accordance with the provisions of M.C.L.A. § 418.361(1); M.S.A. § 17.237(361)(1). Defendant Second Injury Fund denied liability for payment of differential benefits and total and permanent disability compensation under the provisions of M.C.L.A. § 418.521; M.S.A. § 17.237(521), arguing that, as a matter of law, plaintiff could not suffer a second loss of that eye as a result of the 1971 industrial accident.

Following a hearing, the workmen's compensation referee determined that plaintiff had lost the industrial use of his left eye as a result of the 1971 accident. The referee rejected the Second Injury Fund's argument that the "uncorrected vision" test of Lindsay v. Glennie Industries, Inc., 379 Mich. 573, 153 N.W.2d 642 (1967), mandated denial of differential benefits and total and permanent disability compensation pursuant to M.C.L.A. § 418.521; M.S.A. § 17.237(521), and, therefore, ordered the fund to make such payments.

The Second Injury Fund appealed to the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board. The appeal board affirmed the referee's decision, finding, as a matter of fact, that plaintiff had suffered a loss of industrially useful vision in his left eye as a result of the 1971 industrial accident. On leave granted, the Second Injury Fund appealed to the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals affirmed the appeal board's decision on the authority of this Court's holding in Hakala v. Burroughs Corp. (On Rehearing), 399 Mich. 162, 249 N.W.2d 20 (1976). 76 Mich.App. 344, 256 N.W.2d 591 (1977).

The Second Injury Fund now argues in this Court that the use of the "uncorrected vision" test adopted by this Court in Lindsay, supra, and extended to Second Injury Fund cases in Hilton v. Oldsmobile Division of General Motors Corp., 390 Mich. 43, 210 N.W.2d 316 (1973), mandates the conclusion that plaintiff as a matter of law, had lost the vision in his left eye in 1967 and could not lose it again as a result of the 1971 accident.

The fund does not seriously urge that the ultimate result of granting of Second Injury Fund benefits was contrary to the legislative intent underlying the creation of the fund. The fund has rather chosen this case as a vehicle by which it again urges that this Court repudiate the "uncorrected vision" test and replace that test with the "corrected vision" test.

In Hakala v. Burroughs Corp. (On Rehearing), supra, this Court recognized that the question of Second Injury Fund benefits in situations involving the loss of an eye could not be adequately resolved by the universal adoption of either the "uncorrected vision" test or the "corrected...

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4 cases
  • Cain v. Waste Management, Inc.
    • United States
    • Michigan Supreme Court
    • May 3, 2005
    ...compensation benefits must be determined by reference to the statutory language creating those benefits. Nulf v. Browne Morse Co., 402 Mich. 309, 312, 262 N.W.2d 664 (1978). As we have noted in the past, when we construe a statute, our primary goal is to give effect to the intent of the Leg......
  • Cain v. Waste Management, Inc.
    • United States
    • Michigan Supreme Court
    • January 23, 2002
    ...Appeal Board panel that decided the case. In our Hakala opinion,9 we resolved the matter in this fashion: In Nulf [v. Browne Morse Co., 402 Mich. 309, 262 N.W.2d 664 (1978)], we refused to extend the "uncorrected" vision test to total and permanent claims, although we had adopted such a tes......
  • Horne v. Diamond Reo Trucks, Inc.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Michigan — District of US
    • September 15, 1983
    ...constitutes permanent disability within the meaning of the section must be evaluated in light of this purpose. Nulf v. Browne-Morse Co., 402 Mich. 309, 312, 262 N.W.2d 664 (1978). Burke v. Ontonagon County Road Comm., 391 Mich. 103, 214 N.W.2d 797 (1974), requires the employee to show that ......
  • Hakala v. Burroughs Corp.
    • United States
    • Michigan Supreme Court
    • September 19, 1983
    ...standard in every case for every claim would best serve the purpose of the act. We are not so persuaded. In Nulf v. Browne-Morse Co, 402 Mich. 309, 262 N.W.2d 664 (1978), we affirmed the determination that a person who had a permanent disability on account of the loss of one eye was entitle......

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