For the petitioner, Peter L. Hughes, Jr.
For the respondent, John W. Taylor.
Before Justices Donges, Heher and Colie.
The opinion of the court was delivered by
COLIE, J. Certiorari was allowed to review the judgment of the Hudson County Court of Common Pleas in a workmen's compensation suit. Both the Workmen's Compensation Bureau and the Common Pleas made an award of 2 1/2% of partial permanent disability.
On July 21st, 1944, Joseph McKeon filed a petition in the Workmen's Compensation Bureau in which he described his injury as "permanent injury to abdomen, groins, internal injuries; hernia." When the case came on for hearing before the Deputy Compensation Commissioner, the claim of a hernia was abandoned and the cause proceeded on the theory of "an abdominal strain."
The testimony established that in the forenoon of Friday, March 11th, 1944, Joseph McKeon, with three fellow-employees, while carrying a coil weighing from 250 to 300 pounds, slipped on a railroad track. All of the weight seemed to fall on him and he felt a sharp pain in his abdomen. That evening he went to a Dr. Berney, who diagnosed his condition as a bad
strain. McKeon returned to work on the following Monday and continued to work for some three or four weeks, when he noticed a lump in his left groin. The condition was then diagnosed by the doctor for the employer as a hernia.
At the hearing, McKeon called Mr. Cardinale who had first examined him on May 1st, more than thirteen months after the accident on March 11th, 1944. He testified as follows: "I made a diagnosis of a muscular and ligamentous strain of the left lower abdomen. Diagnosis of direct, left inguinal hernia" and estimated his disability as five per cent. of partial total. He testified that the tenderness in the muscles of the left side was due to the strain and not to the hernia. The respondent called Dr. Chapman who was asked by the deputy commissioner "In what way, if any, did the episode of this accident play, either by way of causation or aggravation, with respect to the underlying condition?" and replied "It may have stretched this some."
The evidence squarely presents the question of whether an injured workman may recover compensation for a strain in the inguinal region which, while insufficient to bring on a hernia at the time, yet was sufficient to result in a hernia some three or four weeks later.
The legislature has specifically dealt with the subject of inguinal hernia and allows compensation where a hernia results from application of direct force to the abdominal wall, either ...