On appeal from the Superior Court, Appellate Division.
For affirmance -- Chief Justice Vanderbilt, and Justices Oliphant, Wachenfeld and Burling. For reversal -- Justices Heher, Jacobs and Brennan. The opinion of the court was delivered by Wachenfeld, J. William J. Brennan, Jr., J. (dissenting). Heher and Jacobs, JJ., join in this dissent.
The authorities are divided upon the problem submitted, and the reasoning employed in the different schools of thought is as conflicting as the divergent results.
The inquiry is whether compensation is due an employee who suffered an injury as a result of striking his head against the concrete floor of his employer's premises during the course of his employment, when the cause of the fall was an epileptic seizure unrelated to his employment. The facts are not complicated or in dispute.
The petitioner had been an epileptic for a period of years. He suffered a seizure at the plant of the employer, causing him to fall to a concrete floor, striking his head, resulting in a cerebral concussion.
It is not contended nor suggested that the employment brought on the seizure in any way or was in anywise connected with it. The crux of the appellant's argument is that the concrete floor of the plant constituted a hazard of the
employment which contributed to the accident, thus supplying the necessary basis for compensation under the statute.
The Workmen's Compensation Division allowed compensation, but the County Court reversed because "the seizure or fall in the instant case was not contributed to by the employment. The accident did not arise out of the employment and is therefore not compensable."
The Appellate Division likewise concluded no compensation should be allowed, holding:
"To constitute a risk incidental to employment the instrumentality alleged to have produced or contributed to the injuries complained of would have to be connected in some manner with what the workman had to do in fulfilling his contract of service." 30 N.J. Super. 353 (App. Div. 1954.)
There was a dissent in the Appellate Division, and the appeal is here as a matter of right. R.R. 1:2-1(b). N.J. Constitution, 1947, Art. VI, Sec. V, par. 1(b).
There is no novelty in the query as to the compensability of an injury resulting from an ideopathic fall. In the majority of jurisdictions it is settled that compensation is awarded where the fall is accompanied by some additional or contributing hazard, as where a painter falls from a scaffold or a truck driver topples to the street from his truck or a librarian faints while on a ladder and falls to ...