Todd Shipyards Corporation v. Donovan, No. 19285.

CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Fifth Circuit
Writing for the CourtHUTCHESON, WISDOM, and BELL, Circuit
Citation300 F.2d 741
Docket NumberNo. 19285.
Decision Date13 March 1962
PartiesTODD SHIPYARDS CORPORATION and The Travelers Insurance Company, Appellants, v. P. J. DONOVAN, Deputy Commissioner, United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Employee Compensation, Seventh Compensation District, et al., Appellees.

300 F.2d 741 (1962)

TODD SHIPYARDS CORPORATION and The Travelers Insurance Company, Appellants,
v.
P. J. DONOVAN, Deputy Commissioner, United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Employee Compensation, Seventh Compensation District, et al., Appellees.

No. 19285.

United States Court of Appeals Fifth Circuit.

March 13, 1962.


Andrew P. Carter, of Monroe & Lemann, New Orleans, La., Ernest A. Carrere, Jr., of Jones, Walker, Waechter, Poitevent, Carrere & Denegre, New Orleans, La., for appellants.

Gene S. Palmisano, Asst. U. S. Atty., Ralph Jackson, New Orleans, La., Kathleen Ruddell, U. S. Atty., New Orleans, La., Charles Donahue, Solicitor of Labor, Herbert P. Miller, Asst. Solicitor, George M. Lilly, Attorney, U. S. Department of Labor, Washington, D. C., of counsel, for appellees.

Before HUTCHESON, WISDOM, and BELL, Circuit Judges.

WISDOM, Circuit Judge.

In this action Todd Shipyards Corporation and its insurer sued to set aside a compensation award under the Longshoremen's and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act, 33 U.S.C.A. § 921. Ferdinand Lange, the claimant, suffered a heart attack while at work. The Deputy Commissioner for the Bureau of Employee Compensation of the Department of Labor awarded Lange compensation based on total disability. The appellants contend that the case presents solely a medical question: Was there a causal connection between the claimant's myocardial infarction, which might have occurred anywhere and at any time, and the claimant's employment? They argue that the record contains no medical testimony in support of the Commissioner's finding that the infarction was caused by the nature of Lange's employment and arose out of and in the course of the employment; they aver that two outstanding authorities on cardiovascular diseases, who testified, refused to say that the infarction was the result of the work Lange had been doing. The district court upheld the Commissioner, granting a summary judgment for the defendant. We affirm.

300 F.2d 742

The appellants' argument has the lure of logic and the appeal of oracular authority. But the logic is false; and, with due deference, it seems to us that the heart specialists gave Delphic oracles. The appellants oversimplify the case. The problem this case presents is not solely a medical one, but is compounded of inextricably mingled elements of fact, medical opinion, and inference. Thus, the occurrence of Lange's heart attack immediately following strenuous activities in itself raises an inference of a causal relationship between the activities and the attack. It is true that the distinguished heart specialists, having a proper regard for their oath, as honest scientists were unwilling to say categorically that Lange's activities in his employment caused the infarction. But they were unwilling to say that it did not cause the infarction. Their unwillingness to make a flat choice between the two inferences does not relieve the Commissioner of his responsibility to select the more reasonable inference in the light of the evidence as a whole and the "common sense of the situation."1 We review the findings of the Commissioner and the holdings of the district court, not the opinions of the medical experts.

This Court and many courts have upheld findings of triers of the fact who reached conclusions contrary to the weight of the medical testimony. In Sentilles v. Inter-Caribbean Shipping Corp., 1959, 361 U.S. 107, 80 S.Ct. 173, 4 L.Ed.2d 142, the Supreme Court said:

"The jury\'s power to draw the inference that the aggravation of petitioner\'s tubercular condition, evident so shortly after the accident, was in fact caused by that accident, was not impaired by the failure of any medical witness to testify that it was in fact the cause. Neither can it be impaired by the lack of medical unanimity as to the respective likelihood of the potential causes of the aggravation, or by the fact that other potential causes of the aggavation existed and were not conclusively negated by the proofs. The matter does not turn on the use of a particular form of words by the physicians in giving their testimony. The members of the jury, not the medical witnesses, were sworn to make a legal determination of the question of causation. They were entitled to take all of the circumstances, including the medical testimony into consideration." (Emphasis supplied.)

In Southern Stevedoring Co. v. Voris, 5 Cir., 1955, 218 F.2d 250, 255, this Court sustained the district court's finding:

"I see little, if any, medical testimony that the stroke was due or hastened by the prior injury. In my opinion, however, where the medical testimony to the contrary is not conclusive, lay testimony, and the surrounding facts and circumstances, may be sufficient to fill the gap. Hence, if this finding, standing alone, be somewhat inaccurate, it would not affect the outcome of the case."

See John W. McGrath Corp. v. Hughes, 2 Cir., 1961, 289 F.2d 403. If the issue is one of...

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707 practice notes
  • Wilson v. Norfolk & Western Railway Co., BRB 97-1102
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Longshore Complaints
    • April 29, 1998
    ...See Calbeck v. Strachan Shipping Co., 306 F.2d 693 (5th Cir. 1962), cert. denied, 373 U.S. 954 (1963); Todd Shipyards Corp. v. Donovan, 300 F.2d 741 (5th Cir. 1962); John W. McGrath Corp. v. Hughes, 289 F.2d 403 (2d Cir. 1961). Accordingly, the administrative law judge's credibility determi......
  • U.S. Pipe and Foundry Co. v. Webb, No. 77-2713
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Fifth Circuit
    • May 18, 1979
    ...and draw his or her own inferences from it. Peabody Coal Co. v. Benefits Review Board, 560 F.2d at 802; Todd Shipyards Corp. v. Donovan, 300 F.2d 741, 742 (5th Cir. 1962). A reviewing court may not overturn a hearing officer's inference supported by substantial evidence simply because it co......
  • Garrett v. Dyncorp International, BRB 20-0167
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Longshore Complaints
    • April 28, 2021
    ...is entitled to weigh the evidence and to draw his own inferences and conclusions from it. See generally Todd Shipyards Corp. v. Donovan, 300 F.2d 741 (5th Cir. 1962). He rationally relied on Claimant's testimony he was capable of performing his usual work and wanted to return to the United ......
  • Lopez v. Stevedoring Services of America, BRB 05-0160
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Longshore Complaints
    • October 26, 2005
    ...Calbeck v. Strachan Shipping Co., 306 F.2d 693 (5 th Cir. 1962), cert. denied, 373 U.S. 954 (1963); Todd Shipyards Corp. v. Donovan, 300 F.2d 741 (5 th Cir. 1962); John W. McGrath Corp. v. Hughes, 289 F.2d 403 (2 d Cir. 1961). Consequently, in light of the credited opinions of Drs. Gold and......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
707 cases
  • Wilson v. Norfolk & Western Railway Co., BRB 97-1102
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Longshore Complaints
    • April 29, 1998
    ...See Calbeck v. Strachan Shipping Co., 306 F.2d 693 (5th Cir. 1962), cert. denied, 373 U.S. 954 (1963); Todd Shipyards Corp. v. Donovan, 300 F.2d 741 (5th Cir. 1962); John W. McGrath Corp. v. Hughes, 289 F.2d 403 (2d Cir. 1961). Accordingly, the administrative law judge's credibility determi......
  • U.S. Pipe and Foundry Co. v. Webb, No. 77-2713
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Fifth Circuit
    • May 18, 1979
    ...and draw his or her own inferences from it. Peabody Coal Co. v. Benefits Review Board, 560 F.2d at 802; Todd Shipyards Corp. v. Donovan, 300 F.2d 741, 742 (5th Cir. 1962). A reviewing court may not overturn a hearing officer's inference supported by substantial evidence simply because it co......
  • Garrett v. Dyncorp International, BRB 20-0167
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Longshore Complaints
    • April 28, 2021
    ...is entitled to weigh the evidence and to draw his own inferences and conclusions from it. See generally Todd Shipyards Corp. v. Donovan, 300 F.2d 741 (5th Cir. 1962). He rationally relied on Claimant's testimony he was capable of performing his usual work and wanted to return to the United ......
  • Lopez v. Stevedoring Services of America, BRB 05-0160
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Longshore Complaints
    • October 26, 2005
    ...Calbeck v. Strachan Shipping Co., 306 F.2d 693 (5 th Cir. 1962), cert. denied, 373 U.S. 954 (1963); Todd Shipyards Corp. v. Donovan, 300 F.2d 741 (5 th Cir. 1962); John W. McGrath Corp. v. Hughes, 289 F.2d 403 (2 d Cir. 1961). Consequently, in light of the credited opinions of Drs. Gold and......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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