Pierce v. Boyer-Van Kuran Lumber & Coal Company

Decision Date05 February 1916
Docket Number19447
CourtNebraska Supreme Court

APPEAL from the district court for Douglas county: WILLIS G. SEARS JUDGE. Reversed.


Mahoney & Kennedy, for appellant.

Dunham & Aye, contra.



While the plaintiff was in the employ of the defendant, another employee of the defendant threw a small stick, which struck the plaintiff in the eye. The plaintiff brought this action in the district court for Douglas county to recover compensation under the employers' liability act. The trial court found in plaintiff's favor, and defendant has appealed.

The defendant presents two questions for consideration, and contends: First, that the findings of the court that the accident arose out of plaintiff's employment is not supported by the evidence; second, that the court erred in finding that the plaintiff is entitled to have his weekly compensation payments commuted to one lump sum payment, and the court erred in entering judgment for the plaintiff for a lump sum. These are important questions under this statute. Section 3650, Rev. St. 1913, provides: "If both employer and employee become subject to part II of this article, both shall be bound by the schedule of compensation herein provided, which compensation shall be paid in every case of injury or death caused by accident arising out of and in the course of employment, except accidents caused by, or resulting in any degree from wilful negligence, as hereinafter defined, of the employee." It is clear that the meaning is that the employee shall not be entitled to compensation under the act unless the accident which caused his injury happened in the course of his employment. The facts conceded by the parties are that the plaintiff was regularly in the employment of the defendant. He was acting as a teamster, and at the time of the accident complained of was returning with his team and wagon to the yards of the defendant, and as he was entering the yards another employee, Brown, jumped into the wagon and began a playful scuffling with the plaintiff. Brown soon left the wagon, and, after running a short distance, picked up a small stick, which he playfully threw at the plaintiff, and which struck the plaintiff in the eye, causing the loss of his eye. The contention is that the plaintiff scuffled with Brown while he was upon the wagon, and that after Brown left the wagon the plaintiff attempted to strike him with one of the lines. This latter contention is alleged in the answer, as follows: "Such injury as the plaintiff has was received through a playful assault or friendly scuffle which plaintiff provoked and brought upon himself by attempting to strike said Guy Brown with the end of one of the lines with which the plaintiff was driving his team, and the action of said Guy Brown in throwing the stick which injured the plaintiff was incited and caused by plaintiff's own action." The plaintiff in his testimony denied that he engaged voluntarily in any scuffle with Brown, and denied that he struck Brown with the line or made any attempt or motion toward doing so. Brown testified to something of a scuffle upon the wagon, and also testified positively that the plaintiff attempted to strike him with the line after he left the wagon, which was the cause of his throwing the stick. There was some other evidence upon these two points, but it may be said to be substantially conflicting.

"The accident must 'arise out of' the employment, as well as 'in the course of' the employment. Thus, where a workman during the course of the employment does something entirely foreign to the work which he is employed to do (playing a practical joke, for example) whereby he is injured, this accident could be said to have occurred 'during the course of' the employment, but it could not be said to 'arise out of' the employment, because the workman was not doing anything which he was employed to do when the accident happened." 1 Bradbury, Workmen's Compensation, p. 398.

The parties cite other authorities in the briefs establishing this rule. In this case clearly the plaintiff was not doing "something entirely foreign to the work which he is employed to do." He did not leave his wagon; the team was not stopped; he continued his regular employment. If he resisted the advances of Brown and attempted to force him from the wagon, there is no evidence whatever that plaintiff did anything to encourage Brown to continue his performances. There is no doubt, under the many authorities cited by both parties, that if the workman abandons his employment, even for a short time, and engages in play, or some occupation entirely foreign to his employment, he is not entitled to compensation for an accident by which he is injured while so doing. It would seem also to be clear that, even if he does not abandon his employment, and even while engaged in the performance of his duty, if he does some act or thing not connected with his employment, which was intended to and probably did provoke an assault or retaliation, he would not be entitled to compensation for an injury the result of an accident so caused by himself. It is difficult to determine from this evidence whether the plaintiff made any motion at or toward striking Brown with his lines, and if he did it was in direct connection with Brown's interference with him and may reasonably be said to be a part of that transaction.

There is evidence in the record that the defendant's employees were accustomed to join in what they called horse-play, and that the defendant took no precautions to stop such a custom or protect his employees. There is also evidence that this plaintiff was not in the habit of joining in such playful performances. Under such circumstances the supreme court of New Jersey said: "Where the accident is the...

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  • Pierce v. Boyer-Van Kuran Lumber & Coal Co.
    • United States
    • Nebraska Supreme Court
    • 5 Febrero 1916
    ...99 Neb. 321156 N.W. 509PIERCEv.BOYER-VAN KURAN LUMBER & COAL CO.No. 19447.Supreme Court of Nebraska.Feb. 5, Syllabus by the Court. An employé is not entitled to compensation for injury under the Employers' Liability Act (Laws 1913, c. 198) unless the accident which caused the injury happene......

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