For the petitioners-respondents, A. Harry Moore (Thomas E. Lynch, of counsel).
For the respondent-prosecutor, O'Mara, Conway & Schumann (Edward J. O'Mara and Charles J. Gormley, of counsel).
Before Justices Bodine and Jacobs.
The opinion of the court was delivered by
JACOBS, J. These cases are before the court on certiorari from judgments rendered by the Workmen's Compensation Bureau in favor of the petitioners-respondents and against the respondent-prosecutor.
The petitioner Benjamin W. Smith was employed by the respondent, The Duncan Company, as manager of its apartment house located at 2600 Boulevard, Jersey City, and his wife, the petitioner Rebecca B. Smith was employed as assistant manager. Their duties included the purchase and arrangement
of holiday decorations for the apartment house. Annually, since 1936, they have purchased Christmas wreaths, holly, evergreens, and other decorations at florists and greenhouses. Early in December, 1943, they visited Duby's Florist Shop at Hackensack, where they had made previous purchases, and ordered about twelve wreaths. They were told that the wreaths could be picked up on the afternoon of December 22d, 1943.
On the morning of December 22d, 1943, the petitioners left Jersey City to pick up the wreaths at Duby's in Hackensack. After they left Jersey City they realized that they would arrive at Hackensack too early and thereupon, in the language of the petitioner Benjamin W. Smith, "We talked it over and decided we would go up along the highway to some greenhouses along the highway, and we would go as far as the Goshen Greenhouse in Goshen." His wife testified to the same effect, both stating that they had in previous years made purchases of incidental floral decorations, other than the wreaths, from the Goshen Greenhouse. While driving along the highway towards Goshen, they were in an accident which resulted in injuries to both petitioners, and in their hospitalization until February 19th, 1944.
In due course, each of the petitioners filed a claim for compensation in the Workmen's Compensation Bureau and the claims were consolidated for hearing. At the hearing, it was stipulated that the petitioners were in the employ of the respondent company and that they were injured as a result of an accident on December 22d, 1943. The respondent company contended, however, that the petitioners had deviated from their employment and that, as a result, the accident did not arise out of and in the course of their employment. Respondent acknowledges that to reach this result, the petitioners' testimony before the Bureau that they were on their way to the Goshen Greenhouse must be disbelieved. The respondent company relies on the following evidentiary items, introduced by it, as warranting disbelief of petitioner's testimony:
1. An accident report, by Mr. Cane, president of the respondent company, in which he stated ...