Squeo v. Comfort Control Corp.

CourtNew Jersey Superior Court – Appellate Division
Citation476 A.2d 1265,194 N.J.Super. 366
PartiesEugene M. SQUEO, Petitioner-Respondent, v. COMFORT CONTROL CORP., Respondent-Appellant.
Decision Date28 June 1984

Patrick J. McAuley, Newark, for respondent-appellant (Connell, Foley & Geiser, Newark, attorneys; George J. Kenny, Newark, of counsel; Patrick J. McAuley, Newark, on the brief).

Eugene P. Squeo, Jersey City, for petitioner-respondent (Schiller, Vyzas, McGill & Squeo, Jersey City, attorneys; Mr. Eugene P. Squeo, Jersey City, on the brief).


The opinion of the court was delivered by


Petitioner was rendered a quadriplegic in 1978 by a work-connected accident. He was then 25 years old. His disability has been found to be total and permanent. The employer appeals from a post-judgment order directing it to pay for the construction of a self-contained studio apartment attached to the home of petitioner's parents. 1 The apartment will enable petitioner to leave a nursing home, a setting so oppressive to him that he has made three genuine attempts at suicide by ingesting an overdose of pills. The compensation judge found that the apartment was necessary to relieve petitioner from the double confinement of his disability and the nursing home with its deadening routine and elderly general population. Petitioner is intelligent and ambitious. He wants to be an active member of the community.

The primary issue raised by the employer on this appeal is whether the Division of Workers' Compensation is authorized by the Workers' Compensation Act to enter such an order. N.J.S.A. 34:15-15 provides in relevant part:

The employer shall furnish to the injured worker such medical, surgical and other treatment ... as shall be necessary to cure and relieve the worker of the effects of the injury and to restore the functions of the injured member or organ where such restoration is possible....

The injury here goes beyond the paralysis of petitioner's limbs. The compensation judge found that petitioner suffers from a severe mental depression caused by the accident that can be relieved to a significant degree by releasing him from the confines of the nursing home to private living quarters, designed to accommodate his physical handicap, where he can reassert a measure of independence more precious to him than life itself.

Petitioner's examining doctor testified that given petitioner's aspirations for further education and a career as a financial analyst, forcing him to live in a structured institutional environment designed for people with no hope of a further active life "is no life at all and that he [would] rather be dead than to have to live a life like this." Two witnesses who are quadriplegics testified that despite their handicap they returned to the main stream of community life and have helped others do the same. In the special circumstances of this case where the worker's disability consists in part of a depression so severe as to bring him three times to the brink of suicide, "treatment" may consist of providing him with independent living quarters. The facts, thus found by the compensation judge, are supported in the record and may not be disturbed. Close v. Kordulak Bros., 44 N.J. 589, 599, 210 A.2d 753 (1965).

Respondent argues that the "treatment" contemplated by the statute is limited to "medical services" and "appliances," terms used in N.J.S.A. 34:15-15 to describe the kinds of expenses which may be allowed. Medical treatment is given to preserve life and relieve the patient as much as possible from pain and disability whether physical or mental. The Workers' Compensation Act has always been liberally construed "to alleviate consequences of personal injuries caused by employment and to effect a measure of economic security for the workman so injured and to place the burden thereof on industry." Gargiulo v. Gargiulo, 13 N.J. 8, 13, 97 A.2d 593 (1953). See also Howard v. Harwood's Restaurant Co., 25 N.J. 72, 88, 135 A.2d 161 (1957). We do not suggest that employers...

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7 cases
  • Squeo v. Comfort Control Corp.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
    • 3 July 1985
    ...compensation court ordered that such construction be undertaken. The Appellate Division affirmed the Order of the compensation court 194 N.J.Super. 366, 476 A.2d 1265. We granted Comfort Control's petition for certification. 99 N.J. 148, 491 A.2d 664 Squeo was 24 years old at the time of hi......
  • Howie v. Pennington County, 18410
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • 31 August 1994
    ...added value were the home ever to be sold and Kathy Howie no longer benefit from the use of the spa. Squeo v. Comfort Control Corp., 194 N.J.Super. 366, 476 A.2d 1265, 1268 (Ct.App.Div.1984) ("We are also concerned that if petitioner should no longer use the apartment, no one profit by any ......
  • Olivero by Olivero v. New Jersey Mfrs. Ins. Co.
    • United States
    • New Jersey Superior Court – Appellate Division
    • 5 March 1985
    ...covered under both the No-Fault Act and the Workers' Compensation Act overlap. For instance, in Squeo v. Comfort Control Corp., 194 N.J.Super. 366, 476 A.2d 1265 (App.Div.1984), we held that the term "treatment" used in N.J.S.A. 34:15-15 of the Workers' Compensation Act must be construed br......
  • Stewart by Stewart v. Allstate Ins. Co.
    • United States
    • New Jersey Superior Court – Appellate Division
    • 2 April 1985
    ...costs are deductible, I find that such authority lends only marginal weight to my conclusions. See also Squeo v. Comfort Control Corp., 194 N.J.Super. 366, 369-371, 476 A.2d 1265 (App.Div.1984) (in a worker's compensation setting, the cost of adding an independent apartment to plaintiff's p......
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