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Dobson v. Crucible Steel Co.

Decided: February 20, 1947.


On certiorari.

For the prosecutor, Cox & Walburg (Arthur F. Mead, of counsel).

For the respondent, Greenstone & Greenstone (Isidor Kalisch, of counsel).

Before Justices Bodine, Perskie and Wachenfeld.


The opinion of the court was delivered by

PERSKIE, J. This is a workmen's compensation case. R.S. 34:15-7, et seq. It is admitted that respondent suffered an accident which arose out of and in the course of his employment. Thus here the single question for decision is the quantum of total permanent disability suffered by the employee. In the Bureau that disability was fixed at 5% of total. On appeal to the Hudson County Court of Common Pleas, that court fixed the disability at 50% of total. The employer was allowed a writ of certiorari. Our independent appraisal of the facts and law (Cf. Giles v. W.E. Beverage Co., 133 N.J.L. 137; 43 A.2d 286; affirmed, 134 N.J.L. 234; 46 A.2d 728) leads us to the conclusion that the result reached in the Pleas is right.

Leslie H. Dobson, respondent, was employed by Crucible Steel Company of America, prosecutor, for a period of about two years and eight months at its plant in Harrison, New

Jersey. He first did "pick and shovel" work and any other work he was told to do. Later he worked as a press operator. While working in the latter capacity, on May 7th, 1945, he was engaged in the act of raising a furnace door. A new cable had been placed in the block and it was longer than it should have been. The additional length of the cable became jammed in the block while respondent was trying to raise the door. When respondent tried to remove the cable, by pulling it up and down, the cable flew out of the block, struck him on the nose, between the eyes, and the loose wire ends punctured his forehead in several places. His face was covered with blood. He was so "dizzy" that he did not know what happened to him. He received first aid which included rest for about an hour. He also claimed that the force of the blow knocked him down although the history of the accident which he allegedly gave to the nurse at prosecutor's plant hospital does not so indicate. After receiving first aid treatment he was taken home. He reported for work the next day but, as he explained it, he could not do much and what he did "wasn't very good." He was treated for about two weeks at the plant hospital and then was discharged from further treatment.

Thereafter, beginning on May 16th, 1945, respondent received medical treatment for his continued headaches and dizziness from his own physician, a Dr. Harding. Respondent did not improve. But notwithstanding the fact that his dizziness and headaches persisted, he continued to work for prosecutor until August 15th, 1945 (V-J Day) when, in pursuance of a general lay-off, he was also laid off. Respondent's condition grew worse. He was again examined by Dr. Harding. This doctor found that in addition to the headaches and dizziness respondent "wasn't stable," lacked "equilibrium," suffered from "confusion and loss of memory." He became so "disordered" and "incoherent in speech" and suffered a marked loss of memory that the doctor, on September 27th, 1945, sent the respondent to the Bellevue Hospital in New York City.

While in the Bellevue Hospital, from September 27th, [135 NJL Page 265] 1945, until October 11th, 1945, when he was discharged as "improved but not cured," respondent was examined and treated by a Dr. Pfeffer. This doctor was in the United States Public Health Service for almost three years and specialized in neuropsychiatry, neurology and psychiatry. At the time of the examination and treatment of the respondent this doctor was an instructor in the Department of Psychiatry at the Bellevue Medical School and was chief resident on the neurological service at the Bellevue Hospital. The conclusion reached by this doctor, after his examination and study of the respondent, was that he had suffered a "cerebral disease" in the region of the left side of the brain (Broca's area) which accounted for his difficulty of speech; and that respondent had an "additional lesion" in his brain, in the area called the internal capsule, thus causing weakness in respondent's right side and some "additional neurological signs on the right side of the body." Predominantly, respondent's difficulty of speech was his inability to find the correct word "to name an object," or in "naming a situation," or, in general, "in finding the correct word" although he knew what "he meant to say" but was "unable to say it." Respondent also had great difficulty in "performing skilled movements with his hands," and was unable to do "strenuous work." As already observed, while his condition was improved when he left the hospital, it was not cured.

Dr. Pfeffer did not appraise the permanent disability of the respondent. After respondent left the hospital, Dr. Harding continued and still treats him. The undisputed condition as found by Dr. Pfeffer presents the basic issue in this cause. Was there a causal relationship between the accident suffered by respondent on May 7th, 1945, and the condition of his brain, as disclosed by the examination made on September 27th, 1945? Or was the brain condition of the respondent, as urged for prosecutor, the result of "the ordinary cerebral thrombosis secondary to his cerebral arteriosclerosis," which in ...

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