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D''Amico v. General Electric Supply Co.

Decided: November 30, 1951.


On appeal from the Workmen's Compensation Division of the Department of Labor and Industry.

Naughright, J.c.c.


Respondent, General Electric Supply Company, appeals to this court from an award entered in favor of petitioner, Peter D'Amico, by the Division of Workmen's Compensation of the Department of Labor and Industry.

The issues presented by this appeal are: (1) whether petitioner met with an accident arising out of and in the course of the employment; (2) whether the assessment against respondent-appellant for the medical and hospital bills incurred by petitioner was proper.

Petitioner had been in the employ of respondent-appellant for about two years, and on the date of the alleged accident, March 11, 1949, and for about a year prior thereto, had been working for them as a receiving clerk. His duties in this latter capacity consisted of unloading packages and cartons

from trucks at the company warehouse and keeping accounts or records of the materials as they came in.

On March 11, 1949, petitioner reported for work at his usual time, 8:45 A.M. He began unloading some cartons and packages containing mixing bowls from the tailboard of the truck (which was about shoulder high) onto a pallet or flat platform about four inches off the ground.

Petitioner would remove these cartons (each weighing about six pounds) and with a twisting motion of the body lower them onto a pallet. About 10 A.M., as he was lowering three of these cartons, which he held in such fashion that with arms extended he was pressing the two outer cartons together so as to hold the middle carton in place and keep it from falling, he felt a sharp pain go up the entire left side of his body, front and back. He began to sweat, experiencing a heaviness in breathing. He described the pain as a sort of binding and biting pain in his chest.

Petitioner removed the few remaining packages from the truck and then reported to his foreman, a Mr. Edward O'Connor. He complained of a pain in his left side and told Mr. O'Connor that he had thought he "pulled" a muscle. Mr. O'Connor sent him to the company doctor where he was given heat treatments on his left side by one of the nurses and told to report back on Monday.

Returning to the company plant about noontime petitioner performed but light, sedentary work for the balance of the afternoon. He went directly home after work and, feeling too sick to eat, went to bed. He was not able to sleep well or move properly, being bothered by the pain in his left side and chest.

Dr. Samuel Fortunato, who had treated petitioner in the past, was called in the next day. The doctor gave petitioner something to relieve the pain and advised him to see him at his office on Monday. Dr. Fortunato examined petitioner at his office that Monday, March 14, 1949, and suggested that an X-ray be taken. X-rays were taken that night by a Dr. Santora.

As a result of Dr. Fortunato's examination of these X-rays, petitioner was sent to the hospital, Thursday, March 17, 1949, where he remained for two days. While at the hospital petitioner was examined by a Dr. Martin Castellano, a specialist in chest diseases, who had been called in for a consultation by Dr. Fortunato. Dr. Castellano observed that petitioner appeared short of breath, looked pale and seemed to have some pain in his left chest. He found, upon examination, that the breath sounds on the left side were absent and that on percussion the lower left chest was flat. The heart was pushed to the right side. Dr. Castellano said that an examination of the X-ray plates taken by Dr. Santora showed that the left lung was approximately 50 per cent collapsed and that there was a fluid filling practically half of the left chest.

Petitioner left the hospital on Saturday, March 19, 1949, and went to Dr. Castellano's office where his left lung was "tapped" by Dr. Castellano for removal of this fluid. The fluid removed was a bloody fluid. Petitioner was "tapped" or aspirated for fluid about six or eight times in all, and on each occasion a bloody fluid was removed. The last "tapping" or aspiration took place on April 29, 1949.

The reason for the removal of the fluid, as Dr. Castellano explained, was that if it were to remain it would cause the pleura to thicken and encase the lung in an elastic membrane, impairing its function. In such condition, the lung could not expand properly.

As a result of fluoroscopic examinations and X-rays it was Dr. Castellano's opinion that petitioner was suffering from a spontaneous pneumothorax (collapse of lung) with fluid in the chest.

It appears from the medical testimony that petitioner had a cyst or bleb on his left lung, which condition pre-existed the incident of March 11, 1949; and that with each effort or exertion air was pushed into the cyst or bleb causing it to thin out until, upon the occasion in question, it tore or burst, causing air and fluid to flow ...

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