On appeal from the Supreme Court (Passaic Circuit).
For the plaintiff-appellant, David Cohn.
For the defendant-respondent, Edwin Joseph O'Brien.
The opinion of the court was delivered by
WELLS, J. This is an appeal from a judgment of the New Jersey Supreme Court, Passaic Circuit, entered by direction of the court in favor of defendant, Hydro, Incorporated, and against the plaintiff, Vito Mangani.
On September 6th, 1932, the plaintiff was hired by the defendant to perform the work of an employe, who had been given leave to attend a funeral, and was told that his work would continue until the other man returned. As he was operating a loaded hand-truck, it was caught in a hole in the floor, and plaintiff contends that he sustained certain injuries in an endeavor to right the truck.
The plaintiff consulted an attorney concerning his injuries, and on November 9th, 1932, filed a claim petition with the workmen's compensation bureau. After a full hearing before
the deputy commissioner this claim was dismissed on the ground that plaintiff's injury was not caused or aggravated by the accident in question but in fact was the result of causes in no way related to his employment by the defendant. The records of the bureau concerning this claim were made part of the record in the present case.
Subsequent to this determination by the workmen's compensation bureau, plaintiff started suit in the Supreme Court, alleging that he was a casual employe of the defendant, and that he sustained certain injuries as a result of defendant's negligence. Upon trial of the cause, a motion was made for a directed verdict in favor of the defendant on two grounds: (1) that the determination by the workmen's compensation bureau was res adjudicata as to the matters in issue, and (2) that plaintiff's own case showed that he was in fact a regular and not a casual employe. From the judgment entered for the defendant on the granting of this motion by the trial court the plaintiff appeals.
There is no dispute that the same subject-matter is involved in the case at bar as was earlier submitted for determination by the workmen's compensation bureau. A "finding and determination" by the bureau is essentially a final judgment, and may properly be pleaded as a basis for the application of the doctrine of res adjudicata. Siberry v. National Sulphur Co., 117 N.J.L. 200; Drake v. C.V. Hill & Co., 117 Id. 290; 187 A. 637; Boyle v. Van Splinter, 101 N.J.L. 89.
Plaintiff-appellant here contends that this doctrine is not applicable to the present case since the bureau made no primary finding of jurisdiction to enter the determination made by it, and such determination was thereby a nullity. Argument is made that the bureau had jurisdiction only in cases of regular, and not casual employment; that the bureau, being a special court of limited jurisdiction, must first make a finding of jurisdictional facts before entering a determination; and ...