Town of Crescent City v. Green

Decision Date14 December 1951
Citation59 So.2d 1
PartiesTOWN OF CRESCENT CITY et al. v. GREEN.
CourtFlorida Supreme Court

Osborne, Copp & Markham and J. Henson Markham, all of Jacksonville, for appellants.

Giles F. Lewis, Orlando, for appellee.

HOBSON, Justice.

Although the facts in this case are not identical with those in the recent case of United States Casualty Company (The Southern Company and Florida Industrial Commission) v. Maryland Casualty Company and Louis A. Livingston, Fla., 55 So.2d 741, the real question presented herein is the same one with which we dealt in the last mentioned case. That query is: What weight should the full Commission 'give to the Deputy Commissioner's findings of facts when such findings are before said Commission at the time it performs its statutory duty of considering 'the matter upon the record * * *''?

At the outset we deem it appropriate to observe that neither the full Commission nor the Circuit Judge was aware of our opinion in the case of United States Casualty Company et al. v. Maryland Casualty Company et al., supra, when the instant suit was considered by them respectively.

In this workmen's compensation case there was conflicting evidence with reference to the date upon which the claimant's temporary total disability ceased and the degree of his permanent partial disability.

The Deputy Commissioner found as a matter of fact 'that the claimant suffers from a ten per cent permanent partial loss of use of his back caused by arthritis which preceded the accident, and that of this ten per cent, one-half, or five per cent, is due to aggravation or acceleration by the accident suffered herein.' Upon review of the award on the record the Commission disagreed with the Deputy Commissioner's findings of facts and found that the claimant suffered 'a 10 percent disability to the body as a whole.' The learned Circuit Judge who heard this case upon appeal reversed this finding of the Commission and made the finding 'that the claimant had, up to the time of the hearing before the Deputy Commissioner, a total disability to the body as a whole [except for three days, September 22, 1947 to September 25, 1947] and the same continues to this date.'

The Deputy Commissioner ordered the carrier to pay the claimant 17 1/2 weeks compensation at the rate of $19.20 per week which amounted to a 5% permanent partial disability to the body as a whole. The full Commission determined the claimant should be paid compensation at the rate of $19.20 per week to the date of the hearing, which was January 11, 1949, and in addition thereto 35 weeks, representing a 10% disability to the body as a whole. The Circuit Judge reversed the ruling of the full Commission and ordered 'that the employer, the Town of Crescent City, and its carrier, the Continental Casualty Company, do pay compensation to Birl L. Green at the rate of $19.20 per week from November 25, 1948, the same to be paid in a lump sum; and that the employer and carrier do pay compensation from this date to the employee and claimant at the rate of $19.20 a week until his total disability now existing is legally shown to have terminated.'

Thus, it may be seen that the full Commission reversed the Deputy Commissioner's findings of facts with reference to the degree of claimant's permanent partial disability. It is also patent that the Circuit Judge, in turn, reversed, the full Commission but did not sustain the findings of facts made by the Deputy Commissioner or his award.

Our study of the transcript of record leads us to the conclusion that the full Commission erred when it neglected to observe the 'substantial evidence' rule. There is competent substantial evidence in the record which sustains the findings of facts made by the Deputy Commissioner.

Furthermore, it is our conclusion that the Circuit Judge committed error in that he failed 'to determine whether the full Commission observed the 'substantial evidence' rule when the matter was before said Commission for review as provided by statute * * *.'

It is our judgment that the order entered by the Circuit Judge from which this appeal was prosecuted should be and it is hereby reversed upon authority of the United States Casualty Company et al. v. Maryland Casualty Company et al., supra.

We direct the Circuit Judge to enter an order reversing the order entered on June 29, 1949, by the Florida Industrial Commission with directions to said Commission to uphold the findings of facts made by the Deputy Commissioner and to reinstate the award made by the said Deputy Commissioner.

Reversed and remanded with directions.

SEBRING, C. J., and TERRELL, THOMAS and ROBERTS, JJ., concur.

CHAPMAN, J., dissents.

MATHEWS, J., not participating.

CHAPMAN, Justice (dissenting).

This is a workmen's compensation case. The claimant, Birl L. Green, on September 8, 1947, was an employee of the Town of Crescent City, Florida, and received an injury as a result of an accident arising out of and in the course of his employment. The claimant's average wage when injured was the sum of $32.00 per week. It was stipulated that the claimant's disability began on September 15, 1947, and he received compensation from September 19, 1947, continuously until November 25, 1948, except from September 22, 1947, to September 25, 1947, when claimant was back on the job. The record reflects considerable testimony adduced by the respective parties and taken before the Deputy Commissioner, going largely to the point as to the exact date that the claimant's temporary total disability came to an end and the exact degree of his permanent partial disability, if any flowing from the alleged accident and injury.

From the evidence adduced by the respective parties the Deputy Commissioner held that the claimant suffered a ten per cent permanent partial loss of the use of his back caused by arthritis. The claimant had arthritis on September 8, 1947, at the time he was injured but it was dormant and the accident and injury aggravated or accelerated the pre-existing disease (to-wit, arthritis) 'which amounted to a five per cent permanent partial disability to the (claimant's) body as a whole.' On appeal, the Florida Industrial Commission reviewed all the evidence in the record and entered its order holding that the claimant's injury was not a 'five per cent permanent partial disability to the body as a whole' and said injury only represented a ten per cent disability to the body as a whole and limited additional compensation to the claimant for a period of thirty-five weeks after January 11, 1949, at the rate of $19.20 per week.

The claimant appealed to the Circuit Court of Putnam County, Florida, from the order of the Florida Industrial Commission dated June 29, 1949. On April 7, 1950, the Honorable Herbert B. Frederick, Circuit Judge, entered an order reversing that part of the order of the Industrial Commission which held that the claimant sustained only 'a ten per cent disability to the body as a whole.' The court further ordered that the employer and carrier pay to the claimant the sum of $19.20 per week from November 25, 1948, until April 7, 1950, in a lump sum, and also that the employer and carrier further pay the claimant at the rate of $19.20 until his total disability now existing is legally shown to have terminated. From the order of the Circuit Court dated April 7, 1950, the employer and carrier appealed.

Counsel for appellants contend that since the Florida Industrial Commission considered the claim for additional compensation on all the evidence before it, determined the probity of such evidence, and found therefrom that all of claimant's disability after January 11, 1949, consisted only of a permanent partial disability limited to ten per cent of the body as a whole and awarded compensation accordingly, and the findings and award of the full Commission are not only afforded substantial support by the evidence but no other conclusion could be reached; that the order of the Circuit Court reversing the findings and award of the full Commission and substituting therefor the new and independent findings and judgment on the evidence should be reversed and the award of the Florida Industrial Commission affirmed. Counsel in support of their position cite the following authorities: McCall v. Motor Fuel Carriers, Inc., 155 Fla. 854, 22 So.2d 153; Crawford v. Benrus Market, Fla., 40 So.2d 889, and Sonny Boy's Fruit Co. v. Compton, Fla., 46 So.2d 17.

An answer to the following question may be determinative of this controversy: May a Circuit Judge, when reviewing on appeal an award entered by the Florida Industrial Commission in a workmen's compensation case, make his own determination of the probity of the evidence, as well as the applicable law, and enter such order or judgment as appears to accord with the law and facts?

Section 11 of Article 5 of the Constitution of Florida, F.S.A., prescribes the jurisdiction of the Circuit Courts of Florida. The Circuit Courts are granted exclusive original jurisdiction in cases in equity and law 'not cognizable by inferior courts * * *. They shall have final appellate jurisdiction in all civil and criminal cases arising in the County Court, or before the County Judge * * * supervision and appellate jurisdiction of matters * * * before County Judges pertaining to * * * probate jurisdiction * * * and of such other matters as the Legislature may provide. * * *'

Section 440.27, F.S.A., Chapter 23908, Acts of 1947, conferred jurisdiction on the Circuit Courts of Florida to review Compensation orders entered by the Florida Industrial Commission. Likewise, the Act provides for an appeal to the Supreme Court of Florida on the part of any interested party from the order and judgment entered by the Circuit Court. Section 5 of Article 5 of our Constitution provides that the Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction in all cases at law or in equity originating...

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