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Serignese v. Air Reduction Sales Co.

Decided: March 4, 1947.


On certiorari.

For the respondent-prosecutor, Schneider & Schneider (Walter X. Trumbull, of counsel).

For the petitioner-respondent, Chazin & Chazin (Theodore S. Chazin, of counsel).

Before Justices Bodine, Perskie and Wachenfeld.


The opinion of the court was delivered by

WACHENFELD, J. This is a workmen's compensation case in which the Bureau denied compensation but on appeal to the Hudson County Court of Common Pleas the judgment of the Bureau was reversed.

On January 30th, 1942, respondent started working for the prosecutor as a drill press operator. While so employed, on October 8th, 1942, at one A.M., he struck his head against a bolt of the drill press, cutting the upper eyelid of the right eye, causing severe pain and drawing blood. A moment later, while sitting down and cleaning the jig of the drill press with an air gun, copper chips were blown into the same eye. He immediately notified the foreman of both incidents and the latter gave the respondent an eye cup of boric acid solution to wash out the eye. There was no first-aid nurse or plant hospital. Finding the eye became immediately inflamed and blurred and pain progressively increased, on October 13th, 1942, he went to a Brooklyn hospital and received treatment until July 3d of 1943. Respondent reported to the plant foreman the receipt of medical treatment and asked the latter to put in a report of the injury and was told that it would be done.

During the period from October 13th, 1942, to July 3d, 1943, he could see through the right eye, and though vision was blurred, no working time was lost. Then, while in a locker room with a fellow employee, the latter opened a door in such a manner as to cause it to hit respondent's eyeglasses, breaking the right lens and cutting the upper eyelid. The assistant plant foreman, seeing the accident, took him to an office and made out a report but did not provide nor advise medical treatment. The eye became bloodshot and caused increased pain and became more inflamed, with the result that on July 8th Serignese went to a private doctor, who administered treatment until April, 1944, when it became medically determined that the eye was permanently blind. In fact, the respondent became blind in the eye about four or five months after the second accident. When informed by the private physician of the permanent blindness, he reported

to the company physician, and being told there was no hope for the eye, terminated his employment.

Prior to October 8th, 1942, vision in both eyes, corrected with glasses, was excellent. The work as a drill press operator required good eyesight since very fine drills were used, but after the accident of July, 1943, respondent was given large drills to work with because the eye condition deteriorated. Presently employed with another company, he has become very nervous, does not sleep well, is apprehensive as to the future and gets pains in his right eye and forehead and his eye becomes bloodshot.

The foregoing facts were testified by the respondent and the accident of October 8th, 1942, corroborated by a fellow employee who was an eye witness and that of July 8th, 1943, by the assistant foreman and two fellow employees who were eye witnesses, as well as the fellow employee causing the injury. Two expert medical witnesses testified they had examined him, and on hypothetical question it was their opinion that the two accidents were the cause of the loss of vision of the eye. The third expert produced by the respondent testified that apart from the loss of vision there was a further post-traumatic neurological disability of seven and a half per cent.

The prosecutor seeks to avoid liability on two grounds: first, no notice of the first accident of October 8th, 1942, was given by the respondent; and second, neither accident was the cause of the disability. Relative to the first contention, the plant foreman testified he had never received a report of an accident on October 8th, 1942; that he did not administer any medical aid to respondent on that date; that the fellow employee who testified seeing the accident of that date did not work opposite the respondent until the following year; and that when the respondent ...

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