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Steinmetz v. Snead & Co.

Decided: August 14, 1939.

MARGARET STEINMETZ, PETITIONER-RESPONDENT,
v.
SNEAD & COMPANY, RESPONDENT-PROSECUTOR



On rule to show cause why a writ of certiorari should not be allowed to review an award, under our Workmen's Compensation act, in favor of petitioner below who is the widow of the deceased employe.

For the prosecutor, Kellogg & Chance (R. Robinson Chance, of counsel).

For the respondent, William T. Cahill.

Before Justices Parker, Bodine and Perskie.

Perskie

The opinion of the court was delivered by

PERSKIE, J. Prosecutor, Snead & Company (hereafter referred to as Company), whose factory is located in Jersey City, New Jersey, is engaged in the business of installing library book-stacks, partitions and shelving.

The company had a job at the Library of Congress Annex, Washington, District of Columbia, which required the services of a foreman. It employed Jacob Steinmetz (hereafter referred to as employee) who had worked for it for many years both in its factory and on its outside jobs; he was a dependable man. Pursuant to his employment, as foreman of a crew of iron workers, employee began his work, on the job at Washington, at eight o'clock in the morning of January 8th, 1936. He assisted the workers in the lifting of steel plates from one floor to another; each plate weighed between one hundred and seventy-five and two hundred pounds. In the course of that work one of the workmen released his hold on a plate as a result of which a great strain was placed upon the employee. Immediate resultant consequences justify the conclusion that as a result of the workman releasing his hold, as aforesaid, the situation called for and was given unusual effort by the employee and from that unusual effort came unusual exertion. For the employee immediately following the stated incident leaned against a column, complained of pain and placed his hand over his left side. He walked some twenty-five feet and then was assisted the remaining seventy-five feet to the office of the company. He was there given a glass of water; his hands were cold and clammy, his color was cyanotic and he lapsed into unconsciousness. He was taken to the hospital but when he arrived there at eleven twenty-five A.M., he was pronounced dead. An autopsy was performed and the cause of death stated was "acute cardiac dilatation."

On May 15th, 1936, the widow of the employee filed a dependent's claim petition for compensation under our Workmen's Compensation act. The company's insurance carrier covering its contracts of employment in New Jersey answered the petition. That answer is not factually very informative. It merely states and restates that there was "no accident;"

and that the employee did not die "as the result of an injury arising out of and in the course of his employment."

Hearings were conducted in the bureau. It appears that the company had two insurance carriers. One, as already stated, covering its contracts of employment in New Jersey and another covering its contracts of employment in Washington, District of Columbia. Each carrier was represented at the hearings. Each carrier denied that the employee died as the result of a compensable accident. Each carrier obviously sought, in the event it was determined that the accident was compensable, to place the liability therefor upon the other.

In the light of the stated circumstances, two problems required decision. Where was the contract of employment with the employee effected? Was the death of the employee the result of an accident which arose out of and in the course of his employment? The proofs on both problems are conflicting. We shall make no attempt to state them in detail. It will suffice, on this application, if we make but general observations with reference thereto.

1. In support of the claim of the widow that the employee was employed in New Jersey, two letters from the company to the employee in his lifetime were offered and introduced. The first is dated November 21st, 1935; it states that the employee was to report for work on the job at Washington when notified to do so, and that the company would pay his traveling expenses and for his time while traveling; the second letter is dated January 3d, 1936, and states that the employee is to report for work on the job at Washington, District of Columbia, at once, and that he would be allowed railroad fare, board, and traveling time. Upon these proofs and all other proofs submitted in support of the widow's claim, as well as all proofs submitted in support of the claim that the contract of employment with the employee was effected in Washington, District of Columbia, the bureau determined ...


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