Sears-Roebuck & Co. v. Finney

Decision Date11 January 1936
Citation89 S.W.2d 749
CourtTennessee Supreme Court

Proceeding under the Workmen's Compensation Act by Nelson E. Finney, claimant, opposed by Sears-Roebuck & Co., employer. Judgment awarding compensation, and the employer brings error.


Armstrong, McCadden, Allen, Braden & Goodman and C. G. Morgan, all of Memphis, for plaintiff in error.

W. G. Cavett, of Memphis, for defendant in error.


The company appeals from a compensation award to Finney as totally and permanently disabled by an accidental injury suffered in the course of his employment by the company. It is said both that there is no material evidence to support the finding and that the evidence preponderates against the finding, and in justification of the second of these assignments it is urged that, contrary to the practice, this court should review the case de novo, treating the act of 1929 (chapter 94, § 1) as controlling. That act is expressly limited by its terms to the Court of Appeals, and this court would not be justified in giving it the application suggested. Moreover, there runs through the Compensation Act of 1919 (chapter 123) an evident purpose to make the remedy simple, speedy, and inexpensive. To this end much discretion is vested in the trial court, and we think it consistent with this purpose that the scope of the review of the facts should be restricted on appeal, tending to discourage appeals, with their delays and expense to needy and distressed litigants. A sound reason is thus suggested why the Legislature did not extend the de novo rule so as to cover this class of cases.

We find material evidence to support the finding of the trial judge. The petitioner, a young man, fell, during the noon lunch period, and struck his head so violently against an iron radiator that he was unconscious for some hours. He subsequently developed symptoms of epilepsy and grew progressively worse. We think the testimony indicates that his condition is incurable and that he is thereby totally disabled within the holdings of this court construing the term. Key v. Briar Hill Collieries, 167 Tenn. 229, 68 S.W.(2d) 115. There is testimony that no responsible house will employ an epileptic.

The determinative issue of fact presented is this: Petitioner says, and the trial court found, that his condition is the result of his fall. The company insists that his fall was occasioned by an attack of this disease; that he fell in a fit.

The trial court is supported by the testimony of petitioner as to how he happened to fall — the slipping from under him of the chair in which he was sitting in a leaning position reading a magazine. His testimony is clear and positive; and his positive testimony that he had never before had any head injury, or shown any symptoms of this disease; had always been well and strong. In this he is sustained by his parents and four other witnesses who had known him well for many years. It appears from this testimony that about a month later he had his first attack.

The company introduced testimony that petitioner showed indications of epilepsy at the time of, and immediately following, his fall, and argues therefrom that the disease must have been of the idiopathic, as distinguished from the traumatic, type. But these facts were disputed, and the court quite apparently adopted the petitioner's contention.

The expert testimony was of itself inconclusive. The substance of it was that the form of epilepsy with which petitioner is afflicted may be traumatic and may have resulted from the fall and incidental brain injury. This is the contention of petitioner sustained by the finding. We have referred to the positive and strong evidence of petitioner's previous condition of health. We think that the testimony that petitioner had always before been well and strong and had given no indication of this or other brain disease, that he had this fall and suffered this head injury, rendering him unconscious for hours, that he thereafter developed the disease, and that expert medical opinion is that the injury may have been the cause, was material evidence to support the court's finding that petitioner's condition was brought about by this fall and injury.

When a well man, with no history suggestive of brain disease, suffers a severe head injury and later develops brain trouble, without other or intervening apparent cause, the lay mind reasonably connects the affliction with the injury; and, when expert medical testimony is adduced that such a result may follow from such an...

To continue reading

Request your trial
5 cases
  • Sears-Roebuck & Co. v. Finney
    • United States
    • Tennessee Supreme Court
    • 11 Enero 1936
  • Riverside Mill Co. v. Parsons
    • United States
    • Tennessee Supreme Court
    • 29 Junio 1940
    ...abnormal condition of petitioner's heart", and death resulted. See, also, much in point, the recent case of Sears-Roebuck & Co. v. Finney, 169 Tenn. 547, 89 S.W.2d 749. As shown, the deceased was working when injured in the Riverside Mill. Appellant Fayetteville Milling Company says that (1......
  • Buck & Simmons Auto & Elec. Supply Co. v. Kesterson
    • United States
    • Tennessee Supreme Court
    • 7 Junio 1952
    ...Leonard, 148 Tenn. 665, 257 S.W. 395; King v. Buckeye Cotton Oil Co., 155 Tenn. 491, 296 S.W. 3, 53 A.L.R. 1086; Sears-Roebuck & Co. v. Finney, 169 Tenn. 547, 89 S.W.2d 749. In Burton-Shields Co. v. Steele, 119 Ind.App. 216, 83 N.E.2d 623, 626, 85 N.E.2d 263, the Indiana Court held that the......
  • American Plan Corp. v. Mecredy
    • United States
    • Tennessee Supreme Court
    • 9 Junio 1969
    ...on this fact in Atlas Powder Co. v. Leister, 197 Tenn. 491, 274 S.W.2d 364, and therein quoted a paragraph from Sears-Roebuck & Company v. Finney, 169 Tenn. 547, 89 S.W.2d 749, which is particularly applicable in this lawsuit and the way it is argued and presented to this A casual review of......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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