Staubs v. State Workmen's Compensation Commissioner, No. 12819

CourtSupreme Court of West Virginia
Citation153 W.Va. 337,168 S.E.2d 730
Docket NumberNo. 12819
Decision Date15 July 1969
PartiesShirley Ann STAUBS, Widow of Fred T. Staubs v. STATE WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION COMMISSIONER and National Fruit Product Company, Inc.

Page 730

168 S.E.2d 730
153 W.Va. 337
Shirley Ann STAUBS, Widow of Fred T. Staubs
v.
STATE WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION COMMISSIONER and National Fruit
Product Company, Inc.
No. 12819.
Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia.
Submitted April 29, 1969.
Decided July 15, 1969.

Syllabus by the Court

1. A claimant in a workmen's compensation proceeding has the burden of proving his claim.

2. An award of compensation can not be made in a workmen's compensation case unless it is supported by satisfactory proof that the employee sustained an injury in the course of and resulting from his employment.

3. Though the general rule in workmen's compensation cases is that the evidence will be construed liberally in favor

Page 731

of the claimant, the rule does not relieve the claimant of the burden of proving his claim and such rule can not take the place of proper and satisfactory proof.

4. An order of the workmen's compensation appeal board which is not supported by the evidence and which for that reason is plainly wrong will be reversed by this Court on appeal.

Rice, Hannis, Rice & Wagner, Lacy I. Rice, Jr., Martinsburg, for appellant.

Archibald McDougall, Martinsburg, for appellee.

[153 W.Va. 338] HAYMOND, President.

This claim of Shirley Ann Staubs, for dependent benefits provided by statute, as the widow of Fred T. Staubs, deceased, a former employee of National Fruit Product Company, Inc., was denied by the State Workmen's Compensation Commissioner, by order entered June 14, 1967. Upon appeal by the claimant, the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, by order entered January 8, 1969, reversed the order of the Commissioner and held the claim to be compensable. From that order of the appeal board this appeal was granted upon the petition of the employer.

Other than the evidence of medical witnesses, which is conflicting, there is little if any dispute in the remaining material facts, and the controlling question for decision is whether the evidence shows that the death of Fred T. Staubs resulted from an injury suffered by him in the course of and resulting from his employment, as provided in Section 10, Article 4, Chapter 23, Code, 1931, as amended.

To reverse the order of the appeal board the employer, National Fruit Product Company, assigns as error the failure of the claimant to show by satisfactory evidence that the death of Fred T. Staubs occurred in the course of and resulted from his employment; the findings of the appeal board are not supported by the evidence; and, as claim for compensation benefits was filed by Fred T. Stabus before his death and was denied shortly after his death by order of the commissioner entered March 10, 1966, from which no appeal was taken, the claim of the widow is barred by the doctrine of res judicata.

Fred T. Staubs, twenty-nine years of age, married and the father of four infant children at the time of his death, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound on February 16, 1966. The death certificate, dated February 17, 1966, listed destruction of brain due to rifle shot as the cause of death. He had been employed as a general orchard [153 W.Va. 339] worker of the employer at Gerrardstown, West Virginia, from May 6, 1962 to August 30, 1965. The character of his work varied with the seasons and at different times he was engaged in spraying, pruning and cultivating the orchard at which he was employed. Before his employment at the orchard he had worked for about fifteen years on a farm of his brother-in-law Howard G. Demory near Charles Town, West Virginia.

After quitting his employment on August 30, 1965, he accepted other employment with a construction company in or near Washington, D.C. Though he was exposed to chemicals and poisons during his employment with the National Fruit Product Company, there is no evidence that he was exposed to chemicals or poisons by participating in any spraying operation after he terminated his employment with that company on August 30, 1965. After he had worked four days with the construction company he became mentally ill for the first time, returned to his home and did not at any time resume employment with his former employer. As a result of his illness he became irrational, engaged in violent and bizarre conduct which resulted in his admission to Weston State Hospital at Weston, West Virginia, on September 5, 1965. His condition, when admitted, was described by a physician as unpredictable, irrational, terribly disturbed and combative.

Page 732

The tentative diagnosis was schizophrenic reaction, acute undifferentiated type, and he was transferred to the intensive therapy unit as soon as he became quiet. His condition was similarly described on the following day by another physician who recorded the same tentative diagnosis. He was treated and remained in the hospital for a period of thirteen days and, his condition having improved, he was discharged on September 18, 1965 and he returned to his home on that day. Ten days later, on September 28, 1965, his mental illness having recurred, he was brought to the hospital by a deputy sheriff and readmitted as a patient, his hospitalization having been directed by Doctors John J. Palkot and Frank A. Hamilton,[153 W.Va. 340] of Martinsburg, West Virginia, who examined him and found him to be mentally ill and a proper subject for care and treatment in a hospital for the mentally ill and that he was dangerous to himself and others and required immediate hospitalization. The readmission note of the physician who admitted him to the hospital on September 28, 1965, stated that the patient was very disoriented, agitated, restless and disturbed, made much noise during the interview, and that it was difficult to obtain information from him because he was disorganized in his speech, and was hallucinated and delusional; and the physician recommended that the previous diagnosis of acute brain syndrome of unknown cause, at the time he was discharged on September 18, 1965, should be continued. On October 1, 1965, a physician at the hospital in a report of a preliminary examination stated that Staubs was still delusional during an interview. On October 23, 1965, another physician at the hospital recorded diagnostic impression of schizophrenic reaction, paranoid type.

On January 9, 1966, a physician at the hospital reported that the patient's mental condition was much improved; that he had been working in ward 11 kitchen for more than a month; and that during the interview he was cooperative and friendly. The report also stated that Dr. Andia, another hospital physician, made a neurological examination and found the patient to be suffering from lead poisoning. A report by the hospital staff on January 11, 1966, signed by the superintendent, Dr. Cornelia B. Wilbur, stated that on October 28, 1965, the patient had been seen by the medical staff and that the diagnosis was acute brain syndrome associated with drug or poison intoxication with psychotic reaction, and that during an interview it appeared that the patient had improved considerably, was friendly, cooperative, coherent and relevant, that the prognosis was good and that his discharge was recommended. After a stay of 105 days in the hospital, his condition being improved, he was discharged January 13, 1966 and he returned to his home on that day. [153 W.Va. 341] After his return from the hospital in January 1966, he resumed and continued to work on his brother-in-law's farm until the day of his death on February 16, 1966.

According to the testimony of the widow 'he acted all right for a couple of days' and then he became depressed; 'He just didn't know what to do with himself because he didn't have a job and he was scared he couldn't support the family and finally he started working for Howard Demory.' She...

To continue reading

Request your trial
16 practice notes
  • Repass v. WORKERS'COMPENSATION DIV., No. 27730
    • United States
    • West Virginia Supreme Court
    • June 28, 2002
    ...Workmen's Comp. Comm'r, 155 W.Va. 883, 888, 189 S.E.2d 838, 841 (1972) (per curiam); Syl. pt. 3, Staubs v. State Workmen's Comp. Comm'r, 153 W.Va. 337, 168 S.E.2d 730 (1969); Dunlap v. State Workmen's Comp. Comm'r, 152 W.Va. 359, 364, 163 S.E.2d 605, 608 (1968); Hosey v. Workmen's Comp. Com......
  • Hubbard v. SWCC and Pageton Coal Co., No. 15237
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • December 18, 1981
    ...v. State Workmen's Compensation Commissioner, 159 W.Va. 100, 219 S.E.2d 912 (1975); Staubs v. Workmen's Compensation Commissioner, 153 W.Va. 337, 168 S.E.2d 730 (1969); Ashworth v. Workmen's Compensation Commissioner, 150 W.Va. 537, 148 S.E.2d 364 (1966); Jones v. State Compensation Commiss......
  • Brooks v. City of Weirton, No. 24445.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • May 19, 1998
    ...See Syllabus Point 1, Gibson v. State Comp. Com'r., 127 W.Va. 97, 31 S.E.2d 555 (1944). See also, Staubs v. State Workmen's Comp. Comm'r, 153 W.Va. 337, 348, 168 S.E.2d 730, 736 (1969); Terry v. State Comp. Comm'r, 147 W.Va. 529, 534, 129 S.E.2d 529, 532 8. We do not by our decision in the ......
  • Rhodes v. WORKERS'COMPENSATION DIV., No. 27831.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • December 11, 2000
    ...rule can not take the place of proper and satisfactory proof." Point 3, Syllabus, Staubs v. State Workmen's Compensation Commissioner, 153 W.Va. 337[, 168 S.E.2d 730 Syl. pt. 3, Clark v. State Workmen's Comp. Comm'r, 155 W.Va. 726, 187 S.E.2d 213 (1972). 19. W. Va.Code § 23-4-8c(d) (1998) s......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
16 cases
  • Repass v. WORKERS'COMPENSATION DIV., No. 27730
    • United States
    • West Virginia Supreme Court
    • June 28, 2002
    ...Workmen's Comp. Comm'r, 155 W.Va. 883, 888, 189 S.E.2d 838, 841 (1972) (per curiam); Syl. pt. 3, Staubs v. State Workmen's Comp. Comm'r, 153 W.Va. 337, 168 S.E.2d 730 (1969); Dunlap v. State Workmen's Comp. Comm'r, 152 W.Va. 359, 364, 163 S.E.2d 605, 608 (1968); Hosey v. Workmen's Comp. Com......
  • Hubbard v. SWCC and Pageton Coal Co., No. 15237
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • December 18, 1981
    ...v. State Workmen's Compensation Commissioner, 159 W.Va. 100, 219 S.E.2d 912 (1975); Staubs v. Workmen's Compensation Commissioner, 153 W.Va. 337, 168 S.E.2d 730 (1969); Ashworth v. Workmen's Compensation Commissioner, 150 W.Va. 537, 148 S.E.2d 364 (1966); Jones v. State Compensation Commiss......
  • Brooks v. City of Weirton, No. 24445.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • May 19, 1998
    ...See Syllabus Point 1, Gibson v. State Comp. Com'r., 127 W.Va. 97, 31 S.E.2d 555 (1944). See also, Staubs v. State Workmen's Comp. Comm'r, 153 W.Va. 337, 348, 168 S.E.2d 730, 736 (1969); Terry v. State Comp. Comm'r, 147 W.Va. 529, 534, 129 S.E.2d 529, 532 8. We do not by our decision in the ......
  • Rhodes v. WORKERS'COMPENSATION DIV., No. 27831.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • December 11, 2000
    ...rule can not take the place of proper and satisfactory proof." Point 3, Syllabus, Staubs v. State Workmen's Compensation Commissioner, 153 W.Va. 337[, 168 S.E.2d 730 Syl. pt. 3, Clark v. State Workmen's Comp. Comm'r, 155 W.Va. 726, 187 S.E.2d 213 (1972). 19. W. Va.Code § 23-4-8c(d) (1998) s......
  • 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