Scott v. Industrial Acc. Commission

CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals
Citation283 P.2d 323
Decision Date16 May 1955
PartiesArthur Paul SCOTT, a minor, by his Guardian ad litem, Henry R. Scott, Petitioner, v. INDUSTRIAL ACCIDENT COMMISSION of the State of California, Respondent. Civ. 20953.

Hindman & Davis, Los Angeles, for petitioner.

Everett A. Corten, San Francisco, Daniel C. Murphy, for respondent.

Dryden, Harrington, Horgan & Swartz, Los Angeles, for amicus curiae in support of respondent.

SHINN, Presiding Justice.

The petition of Arthur Paul Scott, a minor, by his guardian ad litem, seeks a writ restraining the Industrial Accident Commission from taking any further proceedings in the matter of the application for adjustment of claim of the petitioner herein heretofore filed with said commission by Pacific Coast Borax Co. and State Compensation Insurance Fund. The commission has filed its answer and an amicus curiae brief has been filed on behalf of the Borax Co. opposing the granting of a writ.

The petitioner alleges that on August 15, 1952, he was an invitee on the premises of the Borax Consolidated, Limited, doing business as Pacific Coast Borax Co., Division of Borax Consolidated Limited, at Death Valley Junction, Inyo County, California, and that while on said premises he was seriously and permanently injured through the negligence of the company; he filed an action against the company December 23, 1953, for the recovery of damages; the defendant answered. The cause was set for trial February 1, 1955; September 16, 1954, defendant with leave of court filed its amended answer alleging as a fifth affirmative defense that exclusive jurisdiction with respect to liability for plaintiff's injuries rested in the Industrial Accident Commission; on November 19, pursuant to motion, the court struck from the amended answer the above affirmative defense; November 23, 1954, the company and State Compensation Insurance Fund filed with the commission an application for adjustment of plaintiff's claim; petitioner has filed no application with the commission; the commission mailed notice of hearing of the application to be held December 23 and caused a subpoena to be served upon petitioner; the referee before whom the matter was pending declined to accede to petitioner's request for a stay of proceedings; January 7 certain evidence was taken by the referee and the matter of further hearing continued to March 8, 1955; January 24, the Borax Co. moved the court to stay proceedings until the matter pending before the commission was finally determined, which motion was denied; at the time set for trial February 1, 1955, the court denied a similar motion for continuance; the cause was tried and after the evidence was closed defendant moved for a directed verdict on the ground that the evidence showed as a matter of law that plaintiff was injured in the course of his employment by defendant and that the commission had exclusive jurisdiction; the motion was denied; the cause was submitted to the jury and the jury failed to reach a verdict; retrial is set for June 14, 1955; thereafter the company moved for a directed verdict in its favor upon the ground it had previously urged; the motion was denied; February 18 petitioner moved the Industrial Accident Commission for an abatement or stay of proceedings pending judgment in the superior court action, which motion was denied. The matter is still pending before the commission but further action has been restrained by our alternative writ until the further order of this court.

Obviously the sole question is whether jurisdiction to determine the factual and legal issues with respect to the liability of the company should be allowed to remain with the superior court to the exclusion of further exercise of its jurisdiction by the commission. We have concluded that the exercise of jurisdiction of the superior court should not be interfered with and that proceedings before the commission should be stayed.

The answer of the commission states: 'We do not dispute that the Superior Court has jurisdiction to hear the matter before it, but we assert that the Industrial Accident Commission also has jurisdiction.' The commission further says: 'The Industrial Accident Commission has a constitutional and statutory duty to determine disputes arising out of the Workmen's Compensation Law expeditiously and without encumbrance of any character.' It is the position of the company, and it appears to be the position of the commission that although the superior court has properly assumed and exercised jurisdiction it may be robbed of its jurisdiction to proceed further by the institution of a proceeding before the Industrial Accident Commission, the question whether petitioner was an employee of the company or its invitee being the same in the action and the proceeding. It is conceded that the question was in issue under the pleadings in the action and that the superior court was competent to decide it.

Where separate tribunals have concurrent jurisdiction and either may grant the relief to which a litigant is entitled the question whether one shall give way to the other is one of court policy and administration. Ordinarily the conflict arises when it is sought to bring about deferment of proceedings in an action later instituted in order that the tribunal first exercising jurisdiction may alone proceed to a determination of the controversy. Of such a situation we said in Simmons v. Superior Court, 96 Cal.App.2d 119, 124, 214 P.2d 844, 849, 19 A.L.R.2d 288: 'The rule which forbids a later action in the same state between the same parties involving the same subject matter rests upon principles of wisdom and justice, to prevent vexation, oppression and harassment, to prevent unnecessary litigation, to prevent a multiplicity of suits,--in short, to prevent two actions between the same parties involving the same subject matter from proceeding independently of each other. We think there is no distinction in reason or difference in principle between a case where a later action between the same parties involving the same subject matter is commenced in the same state and a case where a later action between the same parties involving the same subject...

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1 cases
  • Scott v. Industrial Acc. Commission
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • February 3, 1956
    ...prohibition staying proceedings before the commission, and on May 16, 1955, filed its opinion ordering the issuance of a writ of mandamus. 283 P.2d 323. We granted a hearing and transferred the cause for further study of the problems involved. It appears that in the meantime a second superi......

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