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Simon v. R.H.H. Steel Laundry Inc.

Decided: February 13, 1953.

JOSEPH SIMON, PETITIONER-APPELLEE,
v.
R.H.H. STEEL LAUNDRY, INC., RESPONDENT-APPELLANT



On appeal from award of workmen's compensation.

Drewen, J.c.c.

Drewen

This is an appeal from an award of workman's compensation. The accident claimed to be the cause of the injury alleged occurred some 13 years ago. The original claim proceedings, instituted in 1940 and resulting in a settlement approved by the Bureau, is one of the subjects of contention on this appeal. After the definitive hearing now before us, held March 26, et seq. , 1952, the deputy director found 65% of total and permanent disability and awarded compensation accordingly. The injury as claimed is a disabling psycho-neurosis, without physical or neuro-logical injury. It follows that in the nature of things injury and disability here are one and the same.

Petitioner had been in respondent's employ as assistant steam engineer for a period of some 12 years, when on October 25, 1940 a high pressure steampipe burst in the boiler room where he was at work. The testimony having reference to it is such that I deem it fair to regard the explosion as violent and terrifying. Respondent's witness Colicchio says he found entry to the boiler room, immediately after the explosion, impossible because of the heat of the escaping steam. Denehy, another witness for respondent, and who was with petitioner when the accident occurred, testified in part, on cross-examination:

"Q. Your nerves went after that explosion?

A. Yes. Ever since that I get too nervous, get upset too easy, you know.

Q. You were always in good health before?

A. Yes, I was."

And also:

"I can't be a fireman no more. You have to have good nerves for that you know."

An incident of the explosion was the death of petitioner's immediate superior, one Christiansen, who, in attempting to enter the boiler room through a cellar window, suffered a heart attack and died before medical aid could be summoned. There is no direct proof that petitioner witnessed Christiansen's death, but he very soon learned of it, and I judge it fair to assume that it became an added factor in the psychic impact of the experience. At the first hearing in 1941 petitioner gave his own immediate reaction:

"There was a terrible explosion knocked me like somebody grabbed me and knocked me down. I lost my mind in a second. When I wake up I see there was all steam and I tried to escape from ...


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