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Owens v. Bennett Air Service

Decided: January 15, 1946.

GEORGE L. OWENS, BY HIS NEXT FRIEND, GEORGE OWENS, PETITIONER-PROSECUTOR,
v.
BENNETT AIR SERVICE ET AL., RESPONDENTS



On certiorari.

For the prosecutor, Dixon, Levine & Levine (George E. Meredith, of counsel).

For the respondents, Crawford Jamieson.

Before Justices Case, Bodine and Perskie.

Perskie

The opinion of the court was delivered by

PERSKIE, J. This is a workmen's compensation case. It presents the usual question of whether the accident arose out of and in the course of the employment. We think it did.

The prosecutor, a minor, was employed by respondent as a mechanic's helper and student pilot. On February 1st, 1941, while employed at the Princeton Airport of the respondent, the employee accepted an invitation of the owner of an aeroplane that had landed at the airport and had been serviced by the employee and a fellow worker, to take a flight. The employee accepted the invitation and the aeroplane

crashed after it had risen some 150 feet thereby causing severe injuries both to the employee and to the pilot of the aeroplane.

The Workmen's Compensation Bureau was of the opinion that the employee in accepting an invitation for a ride with a customer did a thing which was not contrary to the rules of the employer but which was in fact countenanced by the officials of the employer and that therefore the accident arose out of and in the course of the employment. On appeal, the Mercer County Court of Common Pleas reached the conclusion, without more, that at the time of the accident the employee was not performing any act that could reasonably be considered to be part of the duties of his employment or for the benefit of the employer, and reversed the Bureau. We granted certiorari to review the judgment of the Pleas.

On certiorari to review a workmen's compensation judgment, it is the duty of the Supreme Court to determine the law and the facts independently of the finding thereon by the lower courts. Beerman v. Public Service Co-ordinated Transport, 123 N.J.L. 479; 9 A.2d 690. Following is our independent finding of the facts.

Sometime in the month of August, 1940, the employee, accompanied by his father, traveled to the airfield of the employer near Hightstown, New Jersey, to seek employment as an aeroplane mechanic and also to be taught how to fly an aeroplane. The two had a conversation with the manager of the airfield and also the chief mechanic. They were told by the officials of the employer of the opportunities offered by the employer to its employees and in the course of the conversation between the employee and the officials of the employer several employees were pointed out who had progressed from student-mechanics to mechanics and flying instructors and especially one such employee who was then earning $50 a week.

The terms of the employment were discussed and closed. By these terms the employee was placed on probation for the first week and was to receive no pay for his work that week. The second week he was to receive $7.50 and thereafter he was ...


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