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Randolph v. Woman''s Club of Bloomfield

Decided: July 25, 1941.


On certiorari.

For the prosecutor, McCarter & English (Verling C. Enteman, of counsel).

For the respondent, David Roskein (Harry Cohn, of counsel).

Before Justices Bodine, Perskie and Porter.


The opinion of the court was delivered by

PERSKIE, J. The primary question requiring decision in this workmen's compensation case is whether respondent -- the employee -- was correctly held to be entitled to partial permanent disability payments.

Ruth C. Randolph, petitioner below and respondent here, is a married woman of 49 years of age. With her husband she had been employed as a resident caretaker by the Woman's Club of Bloomfield, respondent below and prosecutor here. On March 24th, 1937, in pursuance of her duties, the petitioner and her husband were moving a heavy upright piano. After moving the piano, petitioner set up five tables. She testified that these tables seemed "particularly heavy" and she experienced a "peculiar headache * * * a sort of dull headache, nothing like I ever had before." Petitioner thereupon grew nervous and ill and after proceeding to her living

quarters on the third floor of the building, "collapsed on the bed with a very, very severe headache." Following the administration of aromatic spirits of ammonia by her husband, Dr. Dunn was summoned.

Dr. Dunn testified that he found the respondent in bed; that her heart was beating at a rate of 120 a minute; that her face was flushed; that she was very weak; that the "apex of her heart was over the sixth interspace and there was a mitral regurgitant murmur present. Blood pressure was 75, that was 115/175." Dr. Dunn treated the patient for about six months. Although he at first diagnosed her condition to be a "paroxysmal tachycardia," further study led him to alter his diagnosis to "an effort syndrome" causing an "acute dilation" of the heart.

Respondent was confined to bed for almost four weeks. She was treated by Dr. Dunn until November of 1937 at which time she "stopped coming" to see him. Dr. Dunn had advised her strongly against the doing of any laborious work and respondent was at no time able to perform any of her duties for prosecutor. She left the prosecutor permanently on July 1st, 1937. She has done no heavy housework since that time and has refrained from walking up and down stairs.

Respondent filed her claim petition against prosecutor on May 26th, 1937. After hearings on December 13th, 1939, and January 3d, 1940, the deputy commissioner determined that respondent should recover temporary disability from July 1st, 1937, to January 1st, 1938, at $10 per week, in addition to reimbursement for medical expenses. No permanent disability was allowed. Upon respondent's appeal to the Essex County Court of Common Pleas, for the purpose of getting an award for permanent disability, Judge Hartshorne, after reviewing the testimony, found that there had been "a permanent accidental effect upon the heart, disabling petitioner from performing her usual occupation, and to the extent of forty per cent., upon the basis of wages to petitioner of $10 a week." The order of the bureau was reversed accordingly. Prosecutor thereupon obtained a writ of certiorari and here seeks to have reversed the order for reversal and rule for judgment of the Pleas.

1. Prosecutor argues that the accident on May 24th, 1937, did not arise out of and in the course of respondent's employment. It is clear that an employee who suffers an accidental strain of the heart by doing work which calls for unusual strain, effort or exertion, may recover compensation under our act. Bernstein Furniture Co. v. Kelly, 114 N.J.L. 500; 177 A. 554; affirmed, 115 N.J.L. 500; 180 A. 832; Hentz v. Janssen Dairy Corp., 122 N.J.L. 494; 6 A.2d 409; Cf. Kuropata v. National Sugar Refining Co., 126 N.J.L. 44; 17 A.2d 288. Respondent testified that the piano which she was moving, when she had the accident, "was quite heavy; it took two people." It stood on large club casters which were not in very good condition and thus it was "very hard to move." Dr. Dunn, the treating physician, testified that he felt "that there was a causal relationship between the effort this woman expended in moving the piano, and the condition for which [he] treated her." Dr. Lowy and Dr. Beling, specialists who had examined the ...

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