Peterson v. Thief River Falls Welding Co., 36427

CourtSupreme Court of Minnesota (US)
Writing for the CourtDELL
Citation245 Minn. 212,72 N.W.2d 75
PartiesAxel E. PETERSON et al., heirs and next of kin of Ivan Peterson, deceased employee, Respondents, v. THIEF RIVER FALLS WELDING COMPANY et al., Relators.
Docket NumberNo. 36427,36427
Decision Date08 July 1955

Page 75

72 N.W.2d 75
245 Minn. 212
Axel E. PETERSON et al., heirs and next of kin of Ivan
Peterson, deceased employee, Respondents,
No. 36427.
Supreme Court of Minnesota.
July 8, 1955.

Syllabus by the Court.

[245 MINN 212] Case remanded, on review, with directions to the industrial commission to proceed to ascertain, compute, and determine the compensation payable to petitioners under M.S.A.1949, § 176.12, subds. 4, 14, 17, and 19, as amended by L.1951, c. 457, § 5, the applicable statutory provisions, as partial dependents of their deceased son.

Sexton, Tyrrell & Jardine, St. Paul, for relators.

H. O. Berve, Thief River Falls, for respondents.

Page 76

DELL, Chief Justice.

Certiorari to review a decision of the industrial commission determining compensation involving partial dependents under the workmen's compensation act, M.S.A. § 176.01 et seq.

[245 MINN 213] The undisputed facts are that the deceased employee, Ivan Peterson, and his brother, Loren, residents of the city of Thief River Falls, Minnesota, rented a house in which they lived with their sister, June, and their father and mother, ages 79 and 77 respectively. They paid the rent which was $30 per month and shared between them the other family living expenses such as groceries, coal, fuel oil, gas, light, water, and other miscellaneous items approximating $72 per month. They paid wages to their sister June, who did all the household work for the entire family, of $10.50 per month. In addition were expenses for oil, furniture and furnishings, the care of the yard, and their sister June's clothing and medical expenses. Ivan made additional purchases of groceries from time to time in excess of the monthly allowance given to June for the household account, and he had over the years while the family occupied this home purchased a refrigerator, a vacuum cleaner, an oil burner, three expensive mattresses, and a small radio, all out of his own funds. Ivan and Loren each shared one-half of the household expenses except for those separate items purchased by Ivan and voluntarily placed in the household by him and except for a fuel bill of $124 in 1952--1953 which he paid. There were also some small medical bills for the mother of which Ivan had paid the larger portion.

The evidence indicates that Ivan contributed more than Loren to the maintenance of the household, but he also got more in return because Loren operated a farm some distance from the city and was away a good deal of the time. Ivan held a steady job in Thief River Falls and received wages in the amount of $59.11 per week. The testimony is that the father had a nonthly income under the social security act, 42 U.S.C.A. § 301 et seq., of $25 per month and the mother $12.50 per month, a total between them of $37.50. The father testified that they had no property or other income and that they spent this on their support but did not pay anything to the sons. There is no testimony indicating that the parents at any time contributed to the general household account. Testimony was introduced that the cost of maintaining an aged person in a home in Thief River Falls, at the time of, and for the period immediately prior to, Ivan's death, was from $50 to $60 per month.

[245 MINN 214] It is evident that the referee totaled up the contributions made to the household account adding to it rent paid, wages of $10.50 per month paid June by Loren and Ivan, and the social security payments received by the parents in the amount of $37.50. With the latter items added, the household account totaled $150 a month or $34.62 a week. Considering June's services in the family home, her performance of the household duties, and the care she gave her parents, the referee placed the contributions made by Ivan, Loren, and June upon equal ground and found that Ivan contributed one-third thereof. The referee found that, for a reasonable period of time immediately prior to the fatal accident causing the death of Ivan, the total income of the parents, who were found to be partial dependents, was the sum of $34.62 per week and that Ivan contributed to his parents the sum of $11.54 per week and ordered compensation accordingly.

On appeal to the industrial commission the findings of the referee were amended and the commission found that for a reasonable period of time immediately prior to Ivan's fatal accident on April 7, 1953, the support furnished by the deceased employee to his parents was of the reasonable value of $12.70 a week based upon a finding that immediately prior to said accident the total income of the parents as partial dependents was $25.40. Compensation was awarded by the commission at the rate of $12.70 per week. A memorandum attached to the commission's findings reads in part as follows:

'The referee based his award of compensation on percentage of the contribution

Page 77

to a common household account. The commission is of the opinion the award should be on the premise that the parents were wholly supported by the two brothers. Each paid substantially equal amounts.

'The testimony is that it cost from $110 to $120 to support an aged couple in their community. By the death of their son, they lost half of that support.

'Therefore, the commission is modifying the referee's determination and is awarding compensation on the basis of an income loss of $55.00 a month, or $12.70 a week.'

[245 MINN 215] The questions for determination on this review are whether the income loss of the dependents is to be measured as the referee measured it, that is, by the contributions which the deceased employee made to the family fund, or as the industrial commission measured it, that is, by the market cost or value of what the dependents were receiving from the deceased employee, or as relators contend, by construing together and applying M.S.A.1949, § 176.12, subds. 4, 14, 17, and 19, as amended by L.1951, c. 457, § 5, M.S.A. 1

[245 MINN 216] The relators contend that the amount of compensation due partial dependents must be determined by construing together and applying § 176.12, subds. 4, 14, 17, and 19, and not on the basis of what it would cost to support such dependents in the community in which they live. Relators also argue that, since the contributions in the instant case were made by the two brothers to a general household account for the entire family, including the two brothers, the sister, and the parents, there must be a deduction of the amount devoted to the support of the other members of the household outside of the parents and this includes the decedent himself while living in the household as a member of the family. Finally relators contend that the income of the parents, which in the present instance is limited to $37.50 received under the social security act, is a proper item to be taken into account in computing the total income of the partial dependents so as to determine the amount of compensation due such partial dependents pursuant to § 176.12, subd. 17.

While this court has been in harmony with the liberal construction to be given to workmen's compensation acts, it has adhered to the rule in construing these laws that the court is not permitted to legislate or depart from the clear and accepted meaning of words used in the statute.

Page 78

State ex rel. Gorczyca v. City of Minneapolis, 174 Minn. 594, 219 N.W. 924.

The applicable portions of § 176.12, subds. 4, 14, 17, and 19, are not open to construction if the parents in this case are partial dependents; in that event those statutory provisions constitute the applicable law. Subd. 17 provides that partial dependents shall be entitled to receive the proportion of the benefits provided for actual dependents which the Average amount of wages regularly contributed by a deceased employee to such partial dependents at the time of, and for a reasonable time immediately prior to, the injury, bears to the total income of the dependent parents during the same time. The law clearly shows an intent that actual dependents shall receive more compensation than partial...

To continue reading

Request your trial
2 cases
  • Murphy v. Franklin County, 52165
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • October 18, 1966
    ...the fact of dependency as well as the weekly Page 470 compensation to be paid, citing Peterson v. Thief River Falls Welding Company, 245 Minn. 212, 72 N.W.2d 75. In that case the decedent was apparently an adult living with his parents. As to unemancipated minors, such a rule is inconsisten......
  • Umbreit v. Quality Tool, Inc., 44752
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Minnesota (US)
    • January 3, 1975
    ...356, 205 N.W.2d 318 (1973); Tierney v. Tierney & Co., 176 Minn. 464, 223 N.W. 773 (1929); Peterson v. Thief River Falls Welding Co., 245 Minn. 212, 72 N.W.2d 75 (1955). As observed in the Tierney case, which we conclude controls our decision, the rights granted fall into two general categor......

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