Watson v. Grimm

Decision Date15 July 1952
Docket NumberNo. 208,208
Citation90 A.2d 180,200 Md. 461
CourtMaryland Court of Appeals

Appeal from the Circuit Court for Washington County; Mish, C. J.

William O. Treacy, with whom were James J. Treacy and Ready and Broadwater on the brief, for appellant.

Ernest V. Wachs, for appellee.

Marbury, C. J., and Delaplaine, Collins, Henderson and Markell, JJ. Delaplaine, J.

On July 29, 1949, George W. Watson, aged about 60, fell from a garbage truck driven by his employer, William M. Grimm, garbage collector for the City of Hagerstown, and sustained injury which resulted in his death. In April, 1950, his 9-year-old dependent son filed this claim for compensation with the State Industrial Accident Commission. The employer denied that the employee's accidental injury was one "arising out of and in the course of his employment" within the meaning of the Workmen's Compensation Act. Code Supp. 1947, art. 101, sec. 14. On August 14, 1951, the Commission decided that the injury arose out of and in the course of the employment, and ordered the employer to pay compensation to the guardian of the employee's son at the rate of $16.67 per week, beginning July 30, 1949, but not to exceed $7,500, and in addition $300 for funeral expenses. The employer appealed from that award to the Circuit Court for Washington


Grimm testified that he paid Watson a salary of $50 per month and also gave him board and lodging on his farm, which was located near Cavetown about five miles from Hagerstown. He also testified that it was his custom to drive a truck each day from his farm to Hagerstown, taking Watson with him and picking up one or two other helpers before proceeding to some section of the city where the garbage was to be collected. On the day of the accident Grimm took Watson on the truck to Hagerstown as usual. After picking up two other helpers, Oscar Kline and a Negro, he drove to the northern section of the city, where the garbage was to be collected that day. The work was completed about 3 p. m. The truck was then about a mile from the center of the city.

Grimm then testified that Watson told him that he did not want to ride back to the farm that afternoon, but wanted to get off the truck downtown. Kline, who lived some distance from the city, wanted to ride on the truck as far as Harristown, where he would catch another truck going toward his home. The Negro, who lived in Hagerstown, wanted to get off downtown. While Grimm was driving the truck downtown, Watson and Kline stood on the running board on one side of the truck while the Negro stood on the running board on the other side. After the truck had traveled a short distance, Watson became dizzy and fell off the running board at the intersection of Potomac Avenue and Laurel Street, and one of the rear wheels ran over his left leg. He was taken to the Washington County Hospital, where his physician found that he had suffered a fracture of the left ankle, contusion of the right thigh and right elbow, and other injuries, and was in a condition of acute surgical shock. He died on the following day.

The Court, after hearing the case without a jury, held that the accidental injury did not arise out of and in the course of the employment, and thereupon entered a judgment reversing the order of the Commission. The claimant has appealed here from that judgment.

The Workmen's Compensation Act imposes liability upon the employer only where there is a causal connection between the accidental injury and the employment, a connection substantially contributory, though it need not be the sole or proximate cause. Cudahy Packing Co. of Nebraska v. Parramore, 263 U.S. 418 44 S.Ct. 153, 68 L.Ed. 366, 30 A.L.R. 532. The words 'out of' refer to the origin or cause of the accident, while the words 'in the course of' refer to the time and place of the accident and the circumstances under which it occurred. Spencer v. Chesapeake Paperboard Co., 186 Md. 522, 47 A.2d 385; Consolidated Engineering Co. v. Feikin, 188 Md. 420, 52 A.2d 913. The words 'out of the employment' and 'in the course of the employment' are not synonymous and, since they are used conjunctively, they must both be satisfied to bring a case within the operation of the Act. Perdue v. Brittingham, 186 Md. 393, 402, 47 A.2d 491, 495.

The first question before us is whether the accidental injury was one arising out of the employment. An injury to an employee arises out of his employment when it results from some obligation, condition or incident of the employment. It was argued by Grimm that Watson's dizzy spell was caused by an idiopathic condition that had no connection with his employment. It is true that the physician testified that the employee told him at the hospital that he did not know what caused him to fall from the truck 'except he got dizzy and things got black and he fell.' But whatever the condition was that made him faint, there was a causal connection between the injury and the work of garbage collection, as his employer allowed him to ride on the truck, and especially as there was some hazard in riding on the running board. When Grimm was asked whether it was customary for his employees to ride on the running board, he admitted: 'Yes, they rode on the running board all the time. In the summer time it. is hot. You can hardly stand it. You get warm working, and it feels good out there in the air.' An employee's fall need not be caused by an accident in order that his death resulting from the fall may be compensable under the Workmen's Compensation Act, but it is sufficient if the death is brought about by a hazard of the employment and would not have ensued if it had not been for the employment. It is considered that the fall and the resulting injury constitute the accident within the contemplation of the Act. Where an employee's injury resulting from a fall is contributed to by some factor peculiar to the employment, it arises out of the employment within the meaning of the Act, although the fall has its origin solely in some idiopathy of the employee. Baltimore Towage & Lighterage Co. v. Shenton, 175 Md. 30, 199 A. 806; Varao's Case, 316 Mass. 363, 55 N.E.2d 451; Gonier v. Chase Companies, 97 Conn. 46, 115 A. 677, 19 A.L.R. 83; Rockford Hotel Co. v. Industrial Commission, 300 Ill. 87, 132 N.E. 759, 19 A.L.R. 80; Connelly v. Samaritan Hospital, 259 N.Y. 137, 181 N.E. 76; President and Directors of Georgetown College v. Stone, 61 App.D.C. 200, 59 F.2d 875.

We now come to the main question whether the injury was one arising in the course of the employment. This question depends in every case upon the nature of the work and the terms of the contract of employment. The word 'employment,' as used in the Workmen's Compensation Act, includes not only the actual physical labor but the whole period of time or sphere of activities. So it is generally held that an injury arises 'in the course of the employment' when it occurs within the period of employment at a place where the employee reasonably may be in the performance of his duties and while he is fulfilling those duties or engaged in doing something incident thereto. Hartford Accident & Indemnity Co. v. Industrial Accident Commission, 202 Cal. 688, 262 P. 309, 58 A.L.R. 1392; Industrial Indemnity Exchange v. Industrial Accident Commission, 26 Cal.2d 130, 156 P.2d 926, 929. In considering the question whether an employee's injury arose in the course of his employment, one or more of the following questions may be considered When did the period of employment begin? When did it end? When was its continuity broken? How far did the employee, during the period of employment, place himself outside the employment?

In England the Workmen's Compensation Act of 1897 applied only to employment on, in or about a railroad, mine, quarry or engineering work. It was accordingly held by the English courts that a workmen was not entitled to compensation under the Act unless he was injured while engaged on, in or about the premises where his services were being performed, or where his work required his presence as a part of his services, and during the hours of his employment. Thus the courts in England and the United States adopted the general rule that injuries sustained by employees while going to or returning from their regular place of work do not arise out of and in the course of their employment, as the hazards they encounter on such trips are ordinarily not incidents to the employer's business. Miller v. United Rys. & Electric Co., 161 Md. 404, 157 A. 292; Lancaster v. Celanese Corporation of America, 163 Md. 516, 163 A. 209; Reisinger-Siehler Co. v. Perry, 165 Md. 191, 167 A. 51; Nesbitt v. Twin City Forge & Foundry Co., 145 Minn. 286, 177 N.W. 131, 10 A.L.R. 165; Morey v. Battle Creek, 229 Mich. 650, 202 N.W. 925, 38 A.L.R. 1039; Marley v. Orval P. Johnson & Co., 215 Iowa 151, 244 N.W. 833, 85 A.L.R. 969; Postal Telegraph Cable Co. v. Industrial Accident Commission, 1 Cal.2d 730, 37 P.2d 441, 96 A.L.R. 460.

The courts soon learned that it was necessary to adopt rules qualifying the general rule. One of these qualifications is that where the employer furnishes the employee free transportation to and from his work as an incident to the employment, an injury sustained by the employee during such transportation arises out of and in the course of his employment. This rule was announced by the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts in 1914 in the leading case of In re Donovan, 217 Mass. 76, 104 N.E. 431. The claimant in that case was employed two miles from his home, and it was his custom to ride with other employees to and from work in a wagon furnished by the employer. The wagon was at the service of the employees at the end of the day's work, and they could ride back in it to the employer's barn if they so desired. The Court held that, since the claimant was injured while riding after the day's work in the wagon furnished by the employer as...

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