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Steinmetz v. Snead & Co.

Decided: December 14, 1939.

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



On certiorari.

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. We have recently held, in this workmen's compensation case, that the contract between the employer

and employe was made in our state, and that the death of the employe was the result of an accident which arose out of and in the course of his employment. Steinmetz v. Snead & Co., 123 N.J.L. 138; 8 A.2d 126.

By the writ, as limited, the single question we are called upon now to decide is whether the fact that deceased died as a result of an accident which occurred in Washington, District of Columbia, and the further fact that the Congress had enacted a Workmen's Compensation act for the District of Columbia, without reference to our Workmen's Compensation act, make the federal law thus enacted controlling no matter where the contract of employment was made? Or otherwise stated, was our Workmen's Compensation act unconstitutionally applied (article I, section 8, clause 17 and article VI, section 2 of our Federal Constitution)?

Prosecutor contends that the bureau was without jurisdiction to render the judgment under review; and that to the extent that our Workmen's Compensation act purports to give such jurisdiction, it is unconstitutional.

That contention runs in this vein: Because the Congress is given the power "* * * to exercise exclusive jurisdiction in all cases whatsoever * * * over the District of Columbia" (article I, section 8, clause 17 of our Federal Constitution), because the Congress has exercised that power and, without reference to our act, made provisions for compensation "* * * in respect to the injury or death of an employe (with exceptions not here pertinent) of an employer carrying on any employment in the District of Columbia, irrespective of the place where the injury or death occurs * * *," (act, May 17th, 1928, ch. 612, 45 Stat. 600), and because the accident which resulted in the death of the employe occurred in Washington, District of Columbia, then, irrespective of the place where the contract of employment was entered into (be it New Jersey or the District of Columbia) the federal law only, the supreme law of the land (article VI, section 2 of our Federal Constitution) is controlling.

Is that contention sound? We do not think so. We think that it misconceives the true principle upon which ...


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